‘Unprecedented heat’: Iran begins two-day nationwide shutdown amid soaring temperatures

In Asia

A motorcyclist has a drink from a bottle to cool off during a heat wave in Tehran on July 11, 2023.

Atta Kenare | Afp | Getty Images

Iran on Wednesday began a two-day nationwide shutdown because of soaring temperatures, shortly after the Islamic Republic’s health ministry warned of a possible increase in cases of heat exhaustion.

Government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi on Tuesday said that “unprecedented heat” had forced the closures of governmental offices, banks and schools, according to the state-owned Islamic Republic News Agency.

The shutdown will cover the working weekdays of Wednesday and Thursday.

The health ministry was quoted by state media as saying that all medical centers nationwide would be on alert to treat people suffering from the heatwave. The ministry also warned that the shutdown may need to be extended to protect people’s health.

Many Iranian cities and towns have suffered from temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Degrees Fahrenheit) in recent days, while the oil-rich southwestern city of Ahvaz hit 50 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

The capital city of Tehran experienced temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.

The two-day shutdown comes at a time of extreme heat across the globe, with July poised to be the hottest month in history.

Water scarcity is a major issue for Iran, which has been in the grip of a widespread drought for over two years.

In late May, Iranian and Afghan border guards exchanged heavy gunfire amid rising tensions over regional water supplies, while protests broke out in 2021 over water shortages in the Khuzestan province.

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