Heavy snow blankets Iran, air travel hit

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran on Sunday awoke to heavy overnight snowfalls which forced schools to shut, blocked major roads and led to the cancellation of domestic flights, state media reported.

Primary and secondary schools were closed for the day in Tehran and most cities in the north of the country, state television said.

The authorities ordered all government offices closed on Monday and Tuesday, the official IRNA news agency said.

State airline Iran Air cancelled all of its morning domestic flights from Mehrabad airport in the centre of Tehran, while roads in the northwest of the country were closed to traffic.

Meanwhile international flights, which now run exclusively from Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) several kilometres (miles) south of the capital, were delayed, state media reported.

Tehran and several other cities in the north and centre of Iran lie at altitudes of more than 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) above sea level and are regularly hit by heavy falls of snow in winter.

State television said that the snowfalls would continue in the coming days.

A spate of cold weather has already created problems in Iran with around a dozen towns suffering gas cuts last week because of a surge in demand, a shortage compounded by a cut in exports from Turkmenistan.

The authorities have urged the public to reduce their notoriously profligate consumption of gas to ensure there are no further cuts amid plunging temperatures.