Iranian police have used tear gas and fired at the southwestern city of Abdan to dispel another night in protest of the collapse of a deadly building, which is blaming officials for corruption and security, Persian news agency and social media reports.
Officials in Khuzestan’s oil-producing region, where Abadan is located, said the death toll had risen to 28 and that another 37 people had been injured when a 10-storey residential and commercial building collapsed on Monday. Thirteen people have been arrested so far for building violations, they said.
Disaster investigation authorities have arrested Abdan’s current and past mayors and other municipal employees amid allegations that safety warnings have been ignored.
The Fars news agency reported that a protest in Abdan on Friday night turned violent when crowds were forced to move toward the rubble of the building, where rescue operations continued. Police fired tear gas and warning shots, it said.
People were seen running for cover on social media footage. “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot” shouts and shots could be heard. Reuters could not independently verify the footage.
An unverified video from the Khuzestan port city of Mahshaar shows protesters shouting: “They stole oil and gas, took our blood”.
According to other unconfirmed social media posts, demonstrations in solidarity with the Abadan protests took place in Khuzestan, as well as in several nearby areas of Shahin Shahr in central Iran and the southern city of Shiraz.
First Vice President Mohammed Mokhbar told state television on Friday that he believed “widespread corruption” among builders, contractors and supervisors was responsible for the catastrophe.
During earlier protests against rising food prices, residents said Internet services were disrupted, an apparent attempt to stop the use of social media to organize rallies and spread videos. Officials have denied blocking Internet access.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)