collapse of tehran highrise on fire kills 30 firefighters
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Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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Collapse of Tehran high-rise on fire kills 30 firefighters

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Collapse of Tehran high-rise on fire kills 30 firefighters
TEHRAN - Arab Today

A high-rise building in Tehran engulfed by a fire collapsed on Thursday, killing at least 30 firefighters and injuring some 75 people, state media reported.
The disaster struck the Plasco building, an iconic structure in central Tehran just north of the capital’s sprawling bazaar.
Iran’s state-run Press TV announced the firefighters’ deaths, without giving a source for the information. Local Iranian state television said 30 civilians were injured in the disaster, while the state-run IRNA news agency said 45 firefighters had been injured.
Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours before the collapse. Police tried to keep out shopkeepers and others wanting to rush back in to collect their valuables.
The building came down in a matter of seconds, shown live on state television, which had begun an interview with a journalist at the scene. A side of the building came down first, tumbling perilously close to a firefighter perched on a ladder and spraying water on the blaze.
A thick plume of brown smoke rose over the site after the collapse. Onlookers wailed in grief.
Jalal Maleki, a fire department spokesman, earlier told Iranian state television that 10 firehouses responded to the blaze, which was first reported around 8 a.m.
Dramatic images showed flames pouring out of the top floors of the building, which dated from the early 1960s and included a shopping center and clothing workshops.
The fire is thought to have begun on the ninth floor and spread quickly to workshops above.
Firefighters were initially able to bring it under control but it quickly flared up and the building fell four hours after the fire had started, at around 11:30 a.m. (0800 GMT).
“The building’s caretaker and some firefighters were inside when the building collapsed,” said Ahmad, a shop owner in the building.
“I’ve lost my entire stock. Thousands of families have been ruined,” he added.
The steel skeleton of the building could be seen bending down to the ground as around 100 fire engines and dozens of ambulances surrounded the area.
“A friend of mine has a shop there. I keep calling him but there’s no answer. I think he’s been trapped,” said Mohsen, an onlooker.
Police evacuated the area around the building, fearing secondary explosions caused by gas leaks, and worked to clear crowds that were blocking access for rescue services.
“There a number of people inside but we don’t know how many and the fire brigade organization is going to announce how many were there,” Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia told AFP.
“Even one would be too many,” he added.
Fire brigade spokesman Jalal Malekias said the building was known to breach safety standards.
“We had repeatedly warned the building managers about the lack of safety of the building,” he said, adding that it lacked sufficient 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 told state television.
The Iranian military sent units to help with the disaster, state television reported.
Several embassies are located near the building. Turkey’s state-run news agency, reporting from Tehran, said the Turkish Embassy was evacuated as a precaution, though it sustained no damage in the collapse.
The Plasco building was an iconic presence on the Tehran skyline.
The 17-story tower was built in the early 1960s by Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian and named after his plastics manufacturing company. It was the tallest building in the city at the time of its construction.
Elghanian was tried on charges that included espionage and executed in the months after the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the current ruling system to power — a move that prompted many members of the country’s longstanding Jewish community to flee.
The tower is attached to a multistory shopping mall featuring a sky-lit atrium and a series of turquoise-colored fountains. It wasn’t immediately clear if the mall was damaged.

Source : Arab News

  

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