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Iran Leader calls for 'exemplary punishment' in building collapse tragedy

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has offered condolences over the loss of lives in a building collapse in Iran's southwestern province of Khuzestan, calling it an “unfortunate incident”.

In a message  on Thursday, which was read in a meeting chaired by President Ebrahim Raeisi, Ayatollah Khamenei called for the rescue operation to be accelerated and the casualty toll minimized.

The death toll from the collapse of a 10-story Metropol commercial building in the city of Abadan on Monday has now reached 22, making it one of the deadliest disasters in Iran in recent years.

The exact number of people trapped under the rubble is still not known as the search operation has been going slowly and carefully for the fear of adjacent buildings falling down.

Condoling with the families of the victims, the Leader urged the concerned authorities to prosecute those responsible and hand them punishment.

He also called for necessary measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such tragic incidents, saying it was the responsibility of all the officials of the country.

“The unfortunate incident in Abadan, in addition to the need for expediting action and the use of all capacities to reduce casualties, which is now of paramount importance, lays the responsibility with all of us — the officials of the country — to pursue the culprits of the incident and to give exemplary punishment to them with the cooperation of the judiciary, as well as to make a concerted effort to prevent its recurrence in all parts of the country,” the statement read.

“I deem it necessary to thank the government officials for their many days of activities, to demand full follow-up and seriousness in this regard, and to extend my condolences to the bereaved families of the victims of this tragedy,” it added.

The building, which partially collapsed on Monday, included two towers, one already ready and the other under construction.

The state television said at the time that at least 80 people were trapped under the rubble.

After the incident, several teams of medics and rescue workers were dispatched to the scene to assist with rescue and relief efforts.

Videos shared online showed people queuing up in front of hospitals to donate blood for the injured.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raeisi, who was on an official visit to Oman, issued strict instructions to all concerned officials to take all possible measure to manage the disaster.

Raeisi ordered his first deputy Mohammad Mokhber to lead the effort, by sending rescue and firefighting teams from Tehran, and mobilizing all capacities to help people affected by the incident.

He also condoled with the families of those who lost their lives in the incident, stressing that those responsible for the incident must be identified and punished in accordance to the law.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the collapse, according to officials.

The provincial judiciary in Khuzestan says at least 10 people have been arrested so far, including the mayor and two former mayors, over the incident.

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