Rescue teams search for trapped firefighters after Iran building collapse

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Rescue teams were searching on Thursday for at least 25 trapped firefighters and medics treated dozens of casualties after a blazing high-rise building collapsed in downtown Tehran, the city’s mayor said.
One witness described the 17-storey commercial building’s collapse as like a “scene from a horror movie.”
State TV reported that at least 75 people, including 45 firefighters, had been hurt when the building came crashing down in a giant cloud of dust early on Thursday morning.
“About 25 firefighters are trapped inside and rescue teams are trying to get them out,” Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf told state TV from the scene.
Most of the hurt had been taken to hospital and many were quickly discharged, state TV said.
President Hassan Rouhani had ordered “an immediate investigation” on the cause of the collapse, state news agency IRNA reported.
The building’s occupants were evacuated but firefighters had still been trying to control the blaze when it came down.
“Our main worry is about those firefighters trapped under rubble,” Pir Hossein Kolivand, head of the Emergency Medical Services, told IRNA. “All the nearby hospitals are on alert.”
State TV said the building housed garment manufacturers and broadcast footage of business owners trying to enter the building’s ruins as rescue teams scoured the wreckage for survivors.
The search and rescue operation could last more than two days, it reported.
The Plasco building in southern Tehran was more than 50 years old. The semi-official Tasnim news agency said it “had caught fire in the past”.
Tasnim reported that the fire had started on the ninth floor and said more than 200 firefighters had been dispatched to the scene as the blaze tore through the building.
A fire department spokesman told state TV that the building’s occupants “had been warned repeatedly in the past months by the municipality to evacuate the building because of safety concerns.”
The owner of a nearby grocery store, forced by police to leave the area, told Reuters by telephone that “it was like a horror movie. The building collapsed in front of me.”
The semi-official Fars news agency said police had cordoned off the British and Turkish Embassies that are located near the Plasco building.
“The flames could be seen kilometers away from the old building,” the Fars news agency reported.

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