Iran: 30 firefighters killed in Tehran building collapse – Video
Crews were battling the blaze at a high-rise building in Iran when it collapsed live on television.
Thirty firefighters have been killed after a high-rise building collapsed in Tehran, Iran’s state-run Press TV has said.
Fire crews had been battling a blaze at the Plasco building in the country’s capital before it collapsed in a matter of seconds live on television.
A grocery shop owner who was forced by police to leave the area told Reuters the scene was “like a horror movie”.
A thick plume of smoke rose over the rubble as many onlookers cried.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the city’s mayor, said rescuers were digging through the rubble to get to those trapped inside.
He said there were no “ordinary civilians” trapped in the rubble, but witnesses said some people had slipped through the police cordon and gone back into the building.
The steel skeleton of the building, which contained a shopping centre and clothing workshops, could be seen bending towards the ground as about 100 fire engines and dozens of ambulances surrounded the scene.
Local Iranian state television said 30 civilians were hurt, while the state-run IRNA news agency said 45 firefighters had been injured.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported an electrical short circuit caused the fire, citing an official in the Tehran governor’s office.
The blaze is thought to have started on the ninth floor and quickly spread to the workshops above.
The fire appeared to be at its most intense in the building’s upper floors, home to garment workshops where tailors cook for themselves and use kerosene heaters for warmth in winter.
Fire department spokesman Jalal Maleki said authorities had visited the building “many times” to warn them about the conditions there.
“They stacked up material on staircases, which was very awful, although we warned them many times,” he said.
President Hassan Rouhani has ordered an “immediate investigation” into the collapse, IRNA reported.
Sniffer dogs searched for signs of survivors buried under giant slabs of concrete and twisted pieces of metal.
The search and rescue operation could last for more than two days, state TV said.
Firefighters were initially able to bring the fire under control, but it quickly flared up and the building collapsed four hours after the fire began, at about 8am UK time.
The 17-storey tower was constructed in the early 1960s by Iranian-Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian and named after his plastics company.
It was the tallest building in Tehran when it was completed in 1962.