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Drought causing shortage of potable water in southeastern Iran: paper

TEHRAN, Iran, April 10, 2000 (AFP) - Residents of Chah Bahar in southeastern Iran are suffering from a shortage of potable water and an entire southern province's wheat crop is about to die because of drought, Etella'at newspaper reported Sunday.

In the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, the area of "Chah Bahar is experiencing a shortage of potable water, people are very distressed and are getting only six hours of water once every two weeks," a provincial disaster control committee official said.

"All agricultural crops in the Zabal (area of the province) are in danger of being destroyed, and spring-planting activities have been postponed," he added.

The committee said that "several thousand head of cattle have died due to extreme drought in the region."

A ministry of agriculture office said that in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, "nearly 80 percent of Dezful's rain-fed wheat crops have been destroyed."

If the drought persists over the next few days, Khuzestan's entire 14,000 hectares (34,600 acres) of wheat will be destroyed, it added.

Last year, the authorities formed a "crisis cell" to deal with the water shortage in Tehran, which has a population of 13 milllion.

Water levels at the three dams supplying 80 percent of the capital's water have fallen dramatically.