Iran's top leader releases special funds for flood damages

Iran's top leader releases special funds for major flooding damages over past weeks; at least 76 killed so far

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's supreme leader on Monday approved the use of special emergency funds to deal with damage from major flooding that has killed at least 76 people and injured more than 1,000 over the past several weeks.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the government permission to use the National Development Fund, which collects some of the country's foreign revenue for emergency needs, should the country's regular budget not be enough. President Hassan Rouhani asked the country's supreme leader last week to release about $2 billion from the fund.

"We are making every single resource we have available to save and support people. But it is not enough," Zahra Falahat, an official with the Iranian Red Crescent, said in a statement.

The Iranian Red Crescent said an estimated 2 million people need humanitarian assistance as a result of the floods that have swept across the country, wiping out entire villages. The organization has described it as the worst disaster to hit Iran in 15 years.

The Red Crescent said heavy rains and flash floods have affected more than 2,000 cities and towns across almost all of Iran's 31 provinces. It said an estimated 10 million people have been affected in some way, including more than half a million displaced from their homes, some permanently. The Red Crescent said it has provided about 239,000 people with temporary shelters.