Surprise snowstorm traps thousands of Iranians

A car covered in snow is seen in the Tochal mountain, just north of Tehran, on February 3, 2014. Thousands of travellers, many of them visiting family during the Iranian new year holidays, have been rescued after being trapped by unexpected snowstorm
A car covered in snow is seen in the Tochal mountain, just north of Tehran, on February 3, 2014. Thousands of travellers, many of them visiting family during the Iranian new year holidays, have been rescued after being trapped by unexpected snowstorms in north Iran, a report said on Monday, March 31, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

TEHRAN (AFP) - Thousands of travellers, many of them visiting family during the Iranian new year holidays, have been rescued after being trapped by unexpected snowstorms in north Iran, a report said on Monday.

Red Crescent spokesman Hossein Derakhshan told the official IRNA news agency that since Sunday, teams have rescued around 14,000 travellers caught in the heavy snow," "Some 32 people were hospitalised while 1,600 people have been settled in emergency shelters," he added.

Mr Derakhshan also said food and blankets had been distributed.

The snowstorm, which is rare at this time of year, coincides with Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Police have urged Iranians to avoid unnecessary travel.