- By Safet Al-Sadiqi
Firefighters trapped under rubble as fire causes Palsco building to collapse in Tehran
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At least 20 firefighters have died after a major commercial building, The Palsco Building, in Iran’s capital, Tehran, collapsed following a huge fire, according to the city’s mayor.
The confirmation of the death toll by Iranian politician Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf came after conflicting casualty reports earlier on Thursday, with some state media outlets initially reporting dozens of deaths but later backtracking.
Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours before the building, just north of the capital’s sprawling bazaar, fell. Police tried to keep out shopkeepers and others wanting to rush back in to collect their valuables.
The building came down in a matter of seconds, shown live on state television, which had begun an interview with a journalist at the scene. A thick plume of brown smoke rose over the site after the collapse.
More than 200 people who had been injured in the fire were transferred to near by medical facilities, IRNA news agency reported.
Hundreds of people have queued up in hospital and clinics to donate blood for the victims, while several firefighters are reported to have been trapped in the basement of the collapsed commercial complex first built in the 1960s.
Fars news agency reported that one of the firefighters has sent an SMS message to a colleague, saying he was alive and trapped with several others at the building’s engine room.
The Iranian Army has sent in special forces to take control of the rescue mission.
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