Tehran tragedy: number of killed in high-rise collapse unknown

21 January, 2017, 00:38 | Author: Brian Mcdaniel
  • EPA  ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

More than 20 firefighters were killed when Iran's oldest high-rise collapsed following a fire in downtown Tehran on Thursday, the mayor said.

Iran's Fars news agency reported that the majority of shop owners and residents in the Plasco had been successfully evacuated before the collapse.

On Thursday morning, the Plasco building - located just north of Tehran's bazaar - went up in flames.

Maleki noted that the building "lacked fire extinguishers" and said the municipality had called for building managers to improve safety many times over the past few months, as Reuters reported.

Built and opened in 1962 in Iran, Plasco Building was for some years the tallest construction of the city with a height of 42 meters.

The horrifying scene was "inadvertently shown live on state television", The Associated Press reports, and left other firefighters and eyewitnesses crying in the streets. "They are martyrs. They lost their lives when trying to help people".

EPA  ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH
EPA ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

" 'Firefighters went inside to bring them out, and then suddenly the building collapsed, ' Hosseini said". "It is mostly a commercial building", state TV said.

According to local news channels, the building took only a few minutes to collapse.

"We had repeatedly warned the building managers about the lack of safety of the building", fire brigade spokesperson Jalal Malekias said.

Qalibaf had earlier said around 25 firefighters were trapped inside the building. Witnesses, however, suggested that some people may have slipped back into the building, past the police cordon, in an attempt to rescue their belongings.

The building was built by Habibollah Elghanian, a prominent Iranian-Jewish businessman who was later arrested for ties to Israel and sentenced to death following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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