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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Iran protesters demand justice as death toll rises in building collapse

Hundreds of people took to the streets demanding justice after 24 people died after a tower block collapsed, news outlets for the Islamic Republic said on Friday.

A large part of the 10-storey Metropole building under construction in the city of Abadan in Khuzestan province collapsed on Monday, bringing Iran’s deadliest such disasters in years.

Images published by the Fars news agency showed hundreds of residents marching through the streets of Abadan on Thursday night, mourning those who lost their lives by beating traditional drums and playing cymbals.

Some shouted “death to the incompetent officers” and applauded the “martyrs of Metropol”, Fars said.

It said people also took to the streets of the town of Khorramshahr in the same province, expressing sympathy for the families of those killed and demanding a “decisive and serious” trial for those responsible.

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State TV had reported that a similar protest was held in Abadan on Wednesday night.

More than four days after the tower block collapsed, rescuers were still digging out bodies from under the cement slab.

A video posted on the Tasneem news agency website on Friday showed rescue workers carrying a gurney with the body wrapped in a black bag.

The governor of Abadan, Ehsan Abbaspur, quoted by the ISNA news agency, said the number of people killed in the disaster was 24, up from 19 earlier.

Officials said 37 people were also injured, although most have been discharged from hospital.

It is not yet known how many people are still trapped under the rubble.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for criminals to be prosecuted and punished in a statement posted on his official website on Thursday.

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The provincial judiciary said that at least 10 people had been arrested after the incident, including the mayor and two former mayors who were accused of being “responsible” for the collapse, the judiciary’s Mizan online website reported. .

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the disaster in Abadan, a city of 230,000 people 660 kilometers (410 mi) south-west of Tehran.

According to ISNA, First Vice President Mohamed Mokhbar visited Abadan on Friday to “examine the dimensions of the building collapse incident”.

In the last major disaster in Iran, 22 people, including 16 firefighters, were killed when a fire broke out in the capital’s 15-story Plasco shopping center in January 2017.

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