DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ( Associated Press) – The death toll in a devastating tower collapse in southwestern Iran rose to at least 38 on Sunday, state TV reported, as emergency workers pulled another body from the rubble, amid fears Destruction can still get stuck in the middle.
It is not clear how many more people are yet to be ascertained as the tower under construction at the Metropole building in Abadan collapsed nearly two weeks ago. R Rescuers were still working and families still await the word of their loved ones, despite promises that the search operation would be over by now.
The structural building failure in the oil-rich but poor Khuzestan province has focused public attention on shoddy construction practices and led to widespread allegations of government corruption and negligence. Authorities have arrested 13 people as part of a wider investigation into the disaster, including Abadan Mayor Hussein Hamidpour, who resigned last Friday.
Protesters have gathered in mourning at the collapse site, condemning top officials and demanding accountability, according to videos analyzed by The Associated Press and shared widely on social media. However, reporting on the incidents in Abadan is extremely difficult as the threat of arrest looms large. Authorities have blocked internet accessLimiting people’s ability to share videos and information, according to experts.
In an effort to allay public distrust, President Ibrahim Raisi made a surprise visit to Abadan last Friday, where he surveyed the disaster site and offered personal condolences to the families of the victims. During his visit, traders lodged complaints about the scope of corruption in the local government, state media reported.
Raisi vowed that the government would “not hesitate to tackle criminals” and would “monitor construction more closely, especially of tall buildings.”
“Criminals should be aware that the passage of time will not absolve them of responsibility and accountability,” he said.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also touched on events in Abadan during his live televised speech on Saturday – Providing further indication of their seriousness.
In his first speech outside his residence since the outbreak of the pandemic in Iran, Khamenei warned of dire consequences for those who violate the rules and may have helped cause the disaster in Abadan.
“The responsible should be brought to justice, their punishment should serve as a lesson to others and such incidents should be avoided in future,” he said.
Khamenei blamed the recent outbreak of protests in the restive Khuzestan province on Iran’s “enemies”, including “treacherous Iranians” abroad, who he said have targeted the country’s interests through “psychological warfare and online campaigns”. tried to harm.
Reza Pahlavi, in exile in the US, the eldest son of Iran’s ousted monarch before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, last week called for a “unified front against the Islamic Republic” over reports of growing anger in Abadan.