TEHRAN – More than 30 firefighters are feared dead after a high-rise building in Tehran collapsed following a huge fire, state media reported on Thursday.
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Plasco building, an iconic structure in central Tehran just north of the Iranian capital’s sprawling bazaar, is a popular tourist destination. The 17-story building, which included a shopping centre, was among the first high-rise buildings built in the Iranian capital.
Reports of casualties were conflicting after the collapse on Thursday as some state media outlets that had initially reported dozens of deaths later backtracked.
The head of Iran’s Emergency Medical Services, Pir-Hossein Kolivand, said many firefighters were feared dead, the Aljazeera reported.
Over 200 people injured in the fire were transferred to medical facilities, according to the IRNA news agency.
Fars news agency quoted sources saying some 30 firefighters had “most likely” been killed and that the toll was likely to rise as many people were trapped in the building when it fell apart.
State television said 200 firefighters had been called to the scene around 8am. The building later collapsed during a live broadcast at 11:32am (Iranian time).
The 17-storey building, dating from the early 1960s and including a shopping centre and clothing workshops, was being evacuated after the fire broke out, but some people were reportedly still inside when the collapse happened.
Police had blocked off streets around the building, which was among the first high-rises built in the Iranian capital.
Dramatic images showed flames pouring out of the top floors before it crumbled to the ground.
URGENT: Footage shows the moment of major commercial building collapses in Iran’s capital Tehran after hours of severe blaze pic.twitter.com/89GPmRa3GU
— Press TV (@PressTV) January 19, 2017
It was not immediately clear if anyone was trapped inside at the time of the collapse.