London, 21 Jan – On Thursday, a multi-story building in Iranian capital Tehran collapsed following a fire. The 17-story Plasco building was completely destroyed. Firefighters were inside the building at the time it collapsed. Teams of rescuers spent the whole night and much of Friday trying to rescue the firefighters and anyone else trapped inside the building.
State news said on Thursday that 30 people have died in the tragedy, but it is not known if this figure has increased.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the mayor of the city, said on Thursday that 20 firefighters were trapped in the rubble and that further updates would be given. He also said that no civilians were inside the building when it collapsed, although witness reports indicate that people went back inside to retrieve their belongings.
No bodies have been pulled from the rubble yet, but a firefighter died at hospital following serious injuries. He is thought to be named Behnam Mirzakhani.
Iranians have expressed their immense grief following the disaster.
The Iranian government declared Saturday a day of mourning for the country, saying that the lives of many brave people and firefights had been lost.
A spokesman of the city’s Fire Department said that it is presumed that other people had died in the tragedy along with the firefighters.
The head of Iran’s emergency department said that five people remain in hospital and 84 are injured.
The disaster was shown on television while journalists were reporting about the fire. The authorities had apparently warned occupants about stairwells being blocked by fabric from shops on higher floors.
Over 500 garment shops were in the building as well as offices and warehouses. There were chemical materials all over.
Rescue teams tried to access the basement of the building by digging tunnels from neighbouring buildings. Rescue dogs were also present at the scene to assist.
Firefighters and bystanders were clearly distraught with people hugging and supporting each other. Many people offered to donate blood.
Authorities say that the building that is more than 50 years old was weak.
This fire is the most serious in Iran since 2005 when 59 people were killed and almost 200 injured in a blaze at a mosque.