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The BBC's Jim Muir
"A rat population of up to 25 million"
 real 28k

Saturday, 13 May, 2000, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Tehran combats rat plague

By Jim Muir in Tehran

Tehran authorities are launching a new scheme to rid the Iranian capital of an estimated 25 million rats.

Tons of rat poison have been imported for a month-long campaign that residents hope will free the capital of the pests.

People in many parts of the city have been complaining about the eruption in the rat population.

Experts say both black and brown rats are involved - many of them living in open water channels which criss-cross the capital.

Part of the problem appears to be seasonal. The snows on the nearby mountains are melting with the onset of warmer weather, raising water levels and flushing the rats out of their underground homes.

The famous bazaar in the centre of the city, with its warren of narrow alleyways, is said to be particularly badly affected.

Lay down poison

Officials involved in the campaign estimate they could be dealing with a rat population of up to 25 million.

They've bought some 45 tons of rat poison from a joint British-Swiss company and the campaign will start straight away.

About 400 information tents have been set up around the city to tell people what to do.

They are being told to report locations where rats have been spotted.

Municipal officials and rodent operatives from private contractors will then visit the area and lay down the poison in the form of tablets, which the rodents are supposed to find irresistible.

Once they have eaten them it should take three or four days for them to die.

The poison is supposed to make them feel thirsty, so they return underground in search of moisture, thus reducing a possible health hazard from the corpses.

It may not be as environmentally sound as a Pied Piper, but officials are hoping it will rid the city of millions of unwanted guests.

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02 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
Cool for cats as rats run wild
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