Local officials say up to 80 people are feared trapped under the rubble after a 10-storey building collapsed on the city’s busiest street.
Tehran, Iran – At least 10 people have been killed and dozens more trapped after a 10-storey building collapsed in the southwestern Iranian city of Abadan on Monday, authorities said.
The head of the local Red Crescent branch said 32 people had been rescued from under the rubble so far, with 27 being taken to local hospitals.
Large sections of the Metropol commercial building, located on the busiest street in the city center, were razed to the ground, and officials told state television that up to 80 people could be trapped.
Rescue dogs, helicopters, vehicles and personnel have been mobilized from many provinces to assist in the ongoing rescue operation. These include 80 forces from Tehran, namely 50 firefighters and rescuers to assist ground operations and 30 emergency responders to provide air assistance.
But the climate and weather prove to be a real obstacle, as images and videos from the site show dense, orange clouds of dust and pollutants penetrating the air on a hot day, reaching temperatures of about 45 degrees Celsius.
Shahriar Asgari, a spokesman for the local environmental department, told the semi-official ISNA news website that the density of pollutants and dust in the city was more than 42 times higher than allowed on Monday. The situation was no better in other cities in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan.
Khuzestan and provinces across Iran have experienced sporadic dust storms and pollution in recent years, but the number and intensity of pollution incidents have increased in recent weeks. Authorities have blamed a mix of local droughts and over-construction of dams in neighboring countries.
State television on Monday showed aerial footage of the Metropol disaster, which has also destroyed apartment buildings and shops near the collapsed building.
A video also showed a group of angry citizens shouting at local officials at the scene. Others watched the rescue operation in horror and despair. Unconfirmed reports on social media reported that riot police closed nearby streets in the hours following the collapse.
President Ebrahim Raisi, who was in Oman on a state visit at the time of the incident, in addition to his first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, instructed local officials to immediately devote their resources to assisting rescue operations.
Khuzestan Governor Sadegh Khalilian said in a statement that two people had been arrested in connection with the collapse of the building, without naming.
The building was almost complete, but was still partially under construction, according to authorities. Inspectors had reportedly issued safety warnings months before the collapse of Metropol.