At least three people died and more than 1 300 sought medical help as dust storms swept across Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province from September 20 to 22, 2023. Reduced visibility caused by the storms led to fatalities, according to state reports.
Dust storms in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, affecting residents of five adjacent towns near the Afghanistan border, resulted in at least three fatalities over a span of three days and 1 346 individuals treated for various health issues, mainly respiratory, heart, and eye ailments.
Environmental experts said the increasing frequency and intensity of dust storms in Iran is associated with overgrazing, deforestation, and the excessive use of river water. These causes contribute to the drying up of wetlands, which in turn leads to more frequent dust storms in the southern regions of Iran. The reduced water flow in the shared Helmand River has also heightened diplomatic tensions between Iran and Afghanistan. While Tehran blames a dam constructed by Afghanistan for limiting water flow into a border-straddling lake, Kabul attributes the decreased water levels to climate-related factors.
Sistan-Baluchistan has had a history of water shortages and was recently hit by a severe heatwave during late July and early August 2023. Last month, around 1 000 people were treated in hospitals because of health issues triggered by high temperatures and dust storms.
1 Three dead, hundreds hospitalised in Iran dust storms – AFP – September 22, 2023
Featured image credit: NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP/VIIRS, The Watchers. Acquired on September 22, 2023
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