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Iran: Deaths reported after building collapse in southern province

At least 18 bodies have been found three days after a construction collapsed in the city of Abadan
Iranians rescuers scour the rubble at the site where a ten-storey building collapsed, as rescue operations continue in the southwestern city of Abadan on May 24, 2022 (AFP)

At least 18 people have died after a building under construction in southwestern Iran collapsed, Iranian authorities announced on Thursday.

On Monday, the 10-storey Metropol building - under construction in Abadan, one of the main cities of Khuzestan province - partially collapsed on one of the busiest streets in the city.

"The exact number of people under the rubble remains unknown but we have found the bodies of 18 people so far," the province's governor, Ehsan Abbaspour, told state news agency IRNA.

A previous report given on Wednesday had reported 14 dead.

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"Thirty seven people were pulled from the rubble and taken to hospital," said Abbaspour, adding that most of them had since left.

He said the search would continue "until the last body is found".

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state television on Wednesday that the search was progressing "slowly" due to the "possibility of nearby buildings collapsing".

Local justice on Tuesday announced the arrest of 10 people accused of being "responsible" for the incident, including the incumbent mayor of Abadan and two former mayors, as well as an unknown number of municipal employees and project supervisors.

In 2017, the collapse in central Tehran of the Plasco Building, a 15-storey shopping mall dating from the early 1960s, killed 22 people, including 16 firefighters.