Iranian police fire tear gas as protesters demand justice after building collapse

Authorities say 28 people were killed when a tower block collapsed in the city of Abadan on Monday

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Police fired teargas and gunshot rounds into the air to disperse protesters in Iran's south-western city of Abadan, where a tower block collapse on Monday killed 28 people, local media reported on Saturday.

A large section of the 10-storey Metropol building that was under construction in Abadan, Khuzestan province, crumbled in one of the deadliest such disasters in years.

It was the third night of protests in Abadan and other cities in the province which borders Iraq, local media reported.

Security forces in Abadan “used teargas and shot in the air near the collapse site” on Friday night to disperse hundreds of protesters, who were mourning the dead and demanding justice for those responsible for the incident, Fars news agency said.

A number of people shouted “death to incompetent officials” and “incompetent officials must be executed”, similar to calls in protests on Wednesday and Thursday, Fars said.

Elsewhere in Khuzestan a protest in the city of Bandar-e Mahshahr was led by people chanting and banging on drums, images published by Fars showed.

People also took to the streets farther afield, including in the central Iranian cities of Isfahan, Yazd and Shahin Shahr on Friday to express sympathy with the victims of the tragedy, Fars said.

On Thursday night, a shop in Abadan belonging to the family of the building's owner “was set on fire and destroyed by unknown individuals”, Tasnim news agency reported.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who is in Abadan, said on Saturday that “two more bodies were recovered” and sent for identification, taking the death toll to 28, according to state news agency IRNA.

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, second right, visits the site of a building collapse in Abadan. Iranian Senior Vice President Office via AP

Officials have not said how many people might be trapped under the rubble.

Khuzestan's provincial judiciary said on Saturday that 13 people have now been arrested in relation with the incident, including the mayor and two former mayors, IRNA said.

In a statement posted on his official website on Thursday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for those responsible to be prosecuted and punished.

First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber told state television that “widespread corruption existed between the contractor, the builder, the supervisor and the licensing system”.

Updated: May 28, 2022, 8:53 AM
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