Flights cancelled as heavy snowfalls hit Iran
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Some of the heaviest snowfalls in years caused severe transport disruptions in Iran on Sunday, forcing the cancellation of most flights and the closure of many roads, Iranian media said.
All international and domestic flights to and from Tehran were cancelled and some northwestern cities saw their first snow in 20 years. State radio said many roads to and from Tehran were also closed.
"All international flights ... to and from Imam Khomeini International Airport have been cancelled," aviation authority spokesman Reza Jafarzadeh told Reuters, referring to Tehran's international airport.
Flights at 15 other airports in the Middle Eastern country were also cancelled, state radio said.
The authorities closed all schools in Tehran and children were told to stay at home also in other cities, with snow falling in northern, eastern and central regions.
Thousands of motorists and passengers were stuck in the snow and police helped them find shelter in mosques and elsewhere, the media said.
Tehran's normally clogged roads were quieter than usual, with those braving the weather driving cautiously to avoid accidents.
A road linking Tehran with the holy city of Qom was closed, as was one between the capital and the northern province of Mazandaran, which television said saw its heaviest snowfall in about 12 years.
At one point, 15,000 people were stranded on a highway between the cities of Qazvin and Zanjan west of Tehran.
Tehran is located at the foothills of the Alborz mountain range, home to several ski resorts. Snow often falls on the capital in winter but usually involves light falls over most of the city that becomes heavier in higher, northern suburbs.