Iran announced a day of national mourning on Sunday to honor the victims of a 10-story building collapse in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
Sadeq Khalilian, Khuzestan’s governor, said the death toll from the collapse of Metropol commercial building in the city of Abadan has now reached 29, making it one of the deadliest disasters in Iran in recent years.
Khalilian also said that 38 people have been reported missing based on preliminary statistics.
The exact number of people trapped under the rubble is still unknown as the search operation has been going slowly and carefully for the fear of adjacent buildings falling down.
“After retrofitting the building, we were supposed to remove debris in four spots,” Khuzestan’s governor said. “At present, these four spots are being worked on and we have reached sensitive areas from four directions. Given the dangers of the fall of Metropol, we hope that we will be able to remove the debris and remove the bodies trapped under the rubble as soon as possible.”
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Friday offered condolences over the loss of lives in the “unfortunate incident," calling for the rescue operation to be accelerated and the casualty toll minimized.
Condoling with the families of the victims, the Leader also urged the concerned authorities to prosecute those responsible and hand them "exemplary" punishment.
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 has issued strict instructions to all concerned officials to take all possible measure to manage the disaster. 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, with officials blaming faulty construction practices for the incident.