At least six people have died and dozens have been injured or missing under debris after an incomplete multi-storey building collapsed in southwestern Iran, officials said.
More than 30 people were evacuated from the ruins, but there are fears that some 50 people are still trapped, which locals have called a “day of mourning.”
Breathtaking white dust rolled from where the tower-block was standing, engulfed the surrounding vehicles, shocked onlookers looked at the debris with shock, some screamed.
“Parts of the 10-storey Metropole building in Abadan in Khuzestan province have fallen,” state television said. Six people lost their lives and 27 were injured in the disaster.
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Rescuers climbed over tangles of huge slabs of shattered concrete and twisted metal bars. Sniper dogs were used to find dozens of people trapped.
Mehdi Valipor, head of Iran’s Red Crescent Defense and Emergency Operations, said 32 people have been freed from the debris, the ILNA news agency reported.
But the head of the National Emergency Service, Zafar Miadfar, said “according to witnesses, 50 people are still in the ruins,” according to the official IRNA news agency.
Residents shouted in a video posted on social media, “Today is a day of mourning for poor Abaddon.”
Rescuers have seen on television some of the bruises that were pulled from the debris on the stretchers.
A number of cars were smashed by falling debris blocks – some clearly pictured, with those inside.
The crane began work on clearing some debris, including picking up a flat car with tons of concrete falling.
Officials did not provide further details on the victims.
“About 40 percent of the building has been destroyed and (the rest) is in danger of collapsing completely,” city governor Ehsan Abbaspur said on television, ordering the evacuation of neighboring buildings.
The rest of the building is still standing, the floors are falling, the towers on the pile of debris.
State television broadcast live images of the disaster, showing several teams of firefighters clearing the twisted metal.
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According to state television, Abaddon’s busiest street is dominated by “commercial, medical and office” buildings.
IRNA reported that President Ibrahim Raisi visited Oman and ordered the fire brigade to “immediately deploy the security forces and the necessary equipment to remove the debris” in Abadan.
City prosecutor Hamid Maranipur said the cause of the crash is under investigation and the owner of the tower-block and the building’s contractors have been arrested.
Abadan, a city of about 230,000 people, is 660 kilometers (410 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran.
In January 2017, 22 people – including 16 firefighters – died after covering the Plasco Building, a 15-story shopping center and the oldest high-rise building in Iran’s capital.