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Zayanderoud river runs dry

33 Pol Bridge over the Zayanderoud River in Isfahan

ISFAHAN, Iran, August 28, 2000 (IRNA) -- The big Zayanderoud River in this central city, normally a favored stopping point for thousands of visitors, dried up as a result of an unprecedented drought which has hit Iran, it was reported on Monday.

The river, originating from the Chelgerd mountains in the southern province of Chahar-Mahal-Bakhtiari, flows into the Gavkhouni Lagoon in a deserted region in southeastern Isfahan.

Iran, suffering from a second consecutive summer of drought, has had very meager rainfall this year and, compounded by extreme dry weather conditions, its reserves in water reservoirs are at their lowest in 30 years, experts say.

The drought has sped up the destruction of the Gavkhouni Lagoon which has for years been on the edge of destruction.

This year's drought, described by a U.N. assessment report as the "worst" which has hit Iran in 30 years, has resulted in severe damage to the country's agriculture and livestock.

Eight hundred thousand animals, according to the U.N. report released two weeks ago, have already died of malnutrition and disease and more than 60 percent of the rural population may be forced to move to the cities.

The report further pointed out that wilflife habitats are disappearing and that aquatic life in natural ecosystems have been seriously threatened.