Death toll reaches 10 in building collapse in southwest Iran

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TEHRAN, Iran — The death toll from the collapse of a commercial building still under construction in southwestern Iran reached 10 on Tuesday, after more bodies were retrieved from the rubble in the city of Abadan, Iranian media reported.

Dozens were trapped when the 10-story Metropol building toppled on Monday, burying shops and even some cars in the surrounding streets. Initially, five were reported killed but the death toll doubled a day later. At least 39 people were injured, most of them lightly.

State TV said rescue efforts were still underway Tuesday and that dozens had been pulled to safety. An investigation was launched as to why the building on Amir Kabir Street collapsed during a sandstorm.

The owner of the building as well as the project manager of the construction company that built it were arrested Monday. On Tuesday, state TV said six more people had been arrested, linked to the building’s construction or from the local authorities. The semiofficial Tasnim news agency said a total of 10 people were arrested, including the city’s mayor, Hossein Hamidpour.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi offered his condolences and appealed on the 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 of the incident.

A separate parliament inquiry into the case was opened on Tuesday.

The collapse reminded many of the 2017 fire and collapse of the iconic Plasco building in the capital of Tehran that claimed dozens of lives.

In 1978, a fire in Abadan’s Rex movie theater killed hundreds. Abadan hosts the Middle East’s oldest oil refinery, which went online in 1912.

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