By Jubin Katiraie

At least seven people died and 78 were injured in a sudden snowstorm that hit northern Iran in the past few days. 

The seven deaths were reported in Gilan province, with five deaths in an avalanche and two deaths in the city of Rasht; one after a ceiling caved in under the weight of the snow and one after falling from a roof. 

Meanwhile, in Rudbar, five people have been reported missing. 

The roads, including the Qazvin-Rasht highway and the main roads of Rasht, are also blocked in many places by heavy snowfall, so it is proving impossible to get out of the area. 

Gilan’s electricity company said that over 250,000 people have lost electricity because of the storm. The state-run IRNA news agency reported that the following cities are dealing with power outages: 

  • Rasht 
  • Sumeh Sara 
  • Fuman 
  • Shaft 
  • Anzali 
  • Rezvanshahr 
  • Langrud 
  • Lahijan 
  • Astaneh Ashrafiyeh 

IRNA reported that Lahijan and Astaneh Ashrafiyeh are suffering from the most power outages, while other state-run media outlets reported that the storm left almost 100,000 homes and businesses without power in Rasht, a city with a population of 700,000 people, and has caused major disruptions in telephone and mobile communications. 

The snowfall, which in some areas is more than two meters, is affecting 50 out of the 52 cities and counties in Gilan. Gilan province’s weather forecasting office reports that the city of Masuleh has seen one meter of snowfall, while Rasht saw 50-80 centimeters, Lahijan saw 70 centimeters and Astara saw 46 centimeters. 

The weather forecasting office said that the snowfall has stopped in some areas, but that residents should brace themselves for freezing cold weather and wind over the next few days. 

As a result, of the snowstorm, all schools in Gilan were closed on Wednesday. 

Local reports stated that there are very little government relief efforts, but this should not be surprising. There are never any government relief efforts for disaster victims, even in the cases of the regular floods and earthquakes. Instead, people have to rely on each other for help and rescue. In truth, the impoverished people in the stricken areas are harmed by officials' inattention more than the snowfall consequences. In this respect, the description of the snow as a blessing by the chief of staff crisis in Talesh county in Gilan province raised public anger against the government apparatuses.

On Wednesday, Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian oppositionwrote on Twitter: “My condolences to families of those who perished in Gilan, Iran. I urge the youth to help those affected by snow. By wasting our nation’s wealth on warmongering, nuclear and missile projects, mullahs have rendered our compatriots defenseless at times of such incidents.” 

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