Many people feared trapped after 10-storey building collapses in Iran

Rescue workers and bystanders search through the rubble of a collapsed building in Abadan, Iran (23 May 2022)
The Metropol building was located on one of Abadan’s busiest commercial streets

Ten people have been killed and dozens more are thought to be trapped after an unfinished building collapsed in south-west Iran, the Iranian Red Crescent said.

Rescue teams have pulled 35 people from the rubble of the 10-storey Metropol office block in Abadan, it added. Pictures showed that concrete floors and steel beams had fallen on to the street below, crushing several cars.

Officials said the cause of the collapse was being investigated. Local prosecutor Hamid Maranipour said both the Metropol’s owner and the building contractor had been arrested.

State news agency Irna reported that the building was located on Abadan’s busiest commercial street, and that its lower floors had been open for a few days while construction work continued above.

Witnesses said the collapse, which happened at around 12:40 local time (08:10 GMT), was sudden. “I thought it was an earthquake at first,” Ahmad, a shop owner, told the Associated Press.

The Iranian Red Crescent said 23 rescue teams from Abadan and neighbouring cities rushed to the scene along with more than a dozen ambulances. It initially feared that at least 80 people were trapped in the rubble, but after several hours rescuers lowered the missing to “tens” of people.

Rescue teams have been working through the night to try and find victims still trapped under the rubble. The Mehr news agency said most of those who were trapped had been shopping on the ground floor of one of the finished parts of the building.

Later on Monday afternoon, angry residents took to the streets to protest against the actions of local authorities. A video showed them shouting: “Today is a day of mourning for poor Abadan”. In another video, a crowd appeared to run after the city’s mayor, Hossein Hamidpour, near the scene of the collapse.

In 2017, at least 20 people were killed, including 16 firefighters, when the 17-storey Plasco building in Tehran caught fire and then collapsed.

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