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Iran building collapse kills 11 as mayor and others detained

Rubble remains from a 10-storey commercial building under construction in the southwestern city of Abadan (Fars News Agency via AP)
Rubble remains from a 10-storey commercial building under construction in the southwestern city of Abadan (Fars News Agency via AP)

Rescuers efforts are continuing after a building collapse in south-western Iran that killed at least 11 people.

There are fears that many more people could still be trapped beneath the rubble at the Metropol Building site in the city of Abadan.

Authorities have arrested the city’s mayor as part of inquiries into the cause of the disaster.

The collapse on Monday of an under-construction 10-storey tower at the Metropol Building exposed its cement blocks and steel beams.

Video from the initial collapse on Monday showed thick dust rise over Abadan, a crucial oil-producing city in Khuzestan province, near Iran’s border with Iraq.

The Metropol Building included two towers, one already built and the other under construction, though its bottom commercial floors had been finished and already had tenants.

A man stands in the ruins
A man stands amid the ruins (Tasnim News Agency via AP)

On Tuesday, an emergency official interviewed on state television suggested that some 50 people may have been inside of the building at the time of the collapse, including people moving into its basement floors.

However, it was not clear if that figure included those already pulled from the rubble. At least 39 people were injured, most of them lightly, officials earlier said.

Aerial drone footage aired on Tuesday showed the floors had pancaked on top of each other, leaving a pile of dusty, grey debris.

An angry crowd at the site chased and beat Abadan’s mayor Hossein Hamidpour immediately after the collapse, according to the semi-official ILNA news agency and online videos.

Police later arrested Mr Hamidpour and nine others, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.

Iran Building Collapse
It is feared many more may be trapped in the rubble (Fars News Agency via AP)

Initially, authorities said the building’s owner and its general contractor had been arrested as well, though a later report from the judiciary’s Mizan news agency said Tuesday that the two men had been killed in the collapse.

The conflicting reports could not be immediately reconciled.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi offered his condolences and called for local authorities to get to the bottom of the case.

Iran’s vice president in charge of economic affairs, Mohsen Razaei, and interior minister Ahmad Vahidi visited the site.

Legislators opened a separate parliament inquiry into the case on Tuesday, trying to determine why the building on Amir Kabir Street collapsed during a sandstorm.

However, there was no major earthquake recorded on Monday near Abadan, some 410 miles south-west of Tehran.

A local journalist in Abadan had repeatedly raised concerns about the building’s construction, beginning from last year, publishing images that he said showed sagging floors at the first tower.

He also alleged there had been corruption in the building permits process.