Heavy snow snarls traffic, shuts schools in Iran capital

Tehran (AFP) –


Heavy snowfall blanketed the streets of north Tehran on Saturday, causing traffic chaos and forcing the closure of schools, authorities in the Iranian capital said.

Crews of municipal workers were battling to clear roads and pavements in parts of the capital, where snow began falling at the start of the morning rush hour and continued through the day.

"Snow started at a time when there is usually high traffic and now as you can imagine that snow has intensified this traffic," Tehran mayor Hamid Mousavi told the ISNA news agency.

The backed-up traffic prevented the use of snowploughs and forced the municipality to deploy staff to clear the snow by hand, he said.

One commuter said his journey to work from east Tehran took him twice as long as usual as traffic was backed up on major roads leading to northern districts.

There were only a few accidents, despite the driving conditions and the fact that many vehicles lacked tyre chains, a city official said, according to state television's website.

Schools in some districts were ordered closed in the afternoon.

"Due to the coldness of the weather, snow and forecast of continuing snowfall, all schools will be closed this afternoon in districts one to five and district 22 of Tehran," deputy governor Mohammad Taghizadeh said, quoted by ISNA.

"Also all schools in Shemiranat county will be closed in the afternoon shift."