(VIDEO) Collapse of burning Tehran high-rise kills 30 firefighters
A high-rise building in Tehran engulfed by a fire collapsed on Thursday, killing at least 30 firefighters and injuring some 75 people, state media reported, The Associated Press informs.
The disaster struck the Plasco building, an iconic structure in central Tehran just north of the capital's sprawling bazaar.
The 17-story tower was built in the early 1960s by Iranian Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian and named after his plastics manufacturing company. It was the tallest building in the city at the time of its construction.
The tower is attached to a multistory shopping mall featuring a sky-lit atrium and a series of turquoise-colored fountains. It wasn't immediately clear if the mall was damaged.
Firefighters, soldiers and other emergency responders dug through the rubble, looking for survivors.
Iranian authorities did not immediately release definitive casualty figures, which is common in unfolding disasters.
Iran's state-run Press TV announced the firefighters' deaths, without giving a source for the information. Local Iranian state television said 30 civilians were injured in the disaster, while the state-run IRNA news agency said 45 firefighters had been injured.
Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours before the collapse. The fire appeared to be the most intense in the building's upper floors before the collapse. Those floors were home to garment workshops where tailors cook for themselves and use old kerosene heaters for warmth in winter.
Police tried to keep out shopkeepers and others wanting to rush back in to collect their valuables.
Tehran's mayor, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, said there were "no ordinary civilians" trapped under the rubble. However, witnesses said some people had slipped through the police cordon and gone back into the building.
Jalal Maleki, a fire department spokesman, earlier told Iranian state television that 10 firehouses responded to the blaze, which was first reported around 8 a.m.
The Iranian military sent units to help with the disaster, state television reported.