Building Collapses, Kills Firefighters
Government authorities are investigating what caused a high-rise building fire and collapse in Iran that killed at least 20 firefighters Thursday (Jan. 19).
Various reports indicate that the 17-story Plasco building in Tehran collapsed shortly before noon (local time) as firefighters were battling a blaze that started three hours earlier. The firefighters were believed to have been on the structure’s third floor, rescuing civilians, at the time of collapse. Dozens of the civilians were also thought to have perished in the disaster.
"Our colleagues in the fire department have lost their lives while trying to save the people in the fire," Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf told the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, CNN reported.
Bloomberg reported that firefighters and soldiers worked into the night Thursday searching through the twisted metal and concrete for survivors. As of Friday morning, it was unclear how many people were in the building when it came down.
Some news agencies have put the number of people injured into the hundreds.
Collapse Shown Live
Moments before the devastating collapse, a state television journalist had gone on air to provide an update on the fire from the scene when the building caved in behind her, Bloomberg and other news agencies reported.
“God willing, nothing happened to the firefighters who were in there,” she told viewers, then began crying. The video has been widely shared on social media.
The building was said to have housed commercial garment workshops and a shopping center and was one of the oldest high-rises in the capital city.
Building Managers Warned
Following the collapse, news also surfaced that the building managers had been put on notice about unsafe conditions at the property, Aljazeera reported.
"We had repeatedly warned the building managers about the lack of safety of the building," fire brigade spokesman Jalal Malekias said, adding that it lacked fire extinguishers.
"Even in the stairwells, a lot of clothing is stored and this is against safety standards. The managers didn't pay attention to the warnings," he said.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has ordered Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli to investigate the disaster, state news agencies reported, also directing the ministry to ensure that those who were injured were provided care and to compensate those affected.