At least six people died and dozens were injured or missing under rubble after the collapse of an unfinished skyscraper in southwestern Iran, officials said.
More than 30 people have been pulled alive from the rubble, but there are fears that at least 50 others are still trapped, with locals calling it a “day of mourning”.
A suffocating white dust swirled from where the tower block stood, covering surrounding vehicles, as shocked onlookers stared at the wreck in horror, some screaming.
“Parts of the 10-story Metropol building, located in Abadan in Khuzestan province, collapsed,” state television said. “Six people lost their lives and another 27 were injured in the disaster.”
Rescuers climbed huge shattered concrete slabs and tangles of twisted metal bars. Sniffer dogs were used to search for dozens that were believed to be trapped.
Mehdi Valipour, chief of rescue and emergency operations for the Iranian Red Crescent, said 32 people were rescued from under the rubble, ILNA news agency reported.
Iranian Red Crescent members and officials work at the site where a ten-story building collapsed in the city of Abadan in southern Iran’s Khuzestan province on May 23, 2022. sources: AAP / DRAWING / EPA of the Iranian Red Crescent
But Jafar Miadfar, head of the national emergency service, said “according to witnesses, 50 people are still under the rubble,” according to the official news agency IRNA.
“Today is a day of mourning for poor Abadan,” the residents shouted in a video posted on social media.
Rescuers were seen on television rushing out some of the injured who had been pulled out of the rubble on stretchers.
Several cars were crushed by falling debris blocks, some apparently with their occupants still inside, according to the images.
A crane began work to try to remove some of the debris, including lifting a car crushed to the ground by the tons of concrete that fell.
Authorities 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 Abbaspour said on television, ordering the evacuation of neighboring buildings.
The rest of the building still standing, with its sagging floors, towered over the mound of debris.
State television broadcast live images of the tragedy, showing several firefighters cleaning up the twisted metal.
The building is located on the busiest street in Abadan where “commercial, medical and office” buildings predominate, according to state television.
The death tolls are expected to rise following the collapse of an unfinished building in southwestern Iran, officials said. sources: Getty / – / TASNIM NEWS / AFP via Getty Images
Visiting Oman, President Ebrahim Raisi ordered firefighters to “immediately deploy rescue forces and debris removal equipment” to Abadan, IRNA reported.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation and the owner of the tower block and the building contractor have been arrested, city prosecutor Hamid Maranipour said.
Abadan, a city of around 230,000 inhabitants, is located 660 kilometers (410 miles) southwest of the capital Tehran.
In January 2017, 22 people – including 16 firefighters – died after a fire engulfed the Plasco building, a 15-story shopping mall and the oldest skyscraper in the Iranian capital.