Iranian police fire shots, teargas to disperse protests over building collapse

Published May 29, 2022
General view at the site of a ten-storey building collapse in Abadan. — Reuters
General view at the site of a ten-storey building collapse in Abadan. — Reuters

DUBAI: Iranian police used tear gas and fired shots in the air to disperse another night of protests over a deadly building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan that officials are blaming on corruption and lax safety, Fars news agency and reports on social media said.

Officials in the oil producing region of Khuzestan, where Abadan is located, said the death toll had risen to 29 people, and another 37 were injured in Monday’s collapse of the 10-storey residential and commercial building. So far 13 people have been arrested for building violations, they said.

Authorities investigating the disaster have detained Abadan’s current and past mayors and several other municipal employees, amid accusations that safety warnings were ignored.

The government announced a day of national mourning on Sunday to honour the victims of the collapse, state media said.

Fars agency said that a protest in Abadan on Friday night turned violent when crowds forced their way into the ruins of the building, where rescue operations were continuing. Police fired tear gas and warning shots, it said.

Footage on social media showed people running for cover. Screams of “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot” and the sound of gunfire could be heard.

Unverified video from Khuzestan’s port city of Mahshahr showed protesters shouting: “They stole oil and gas, took our blood”.

Marches in solidarity with the Abadan protests have also been held in several nearby areas in Khuzestan as well as Shahin Shahr in central Iran and the southern city of Shiraz, according to other unverified postings on social media.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2022

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