Tall shopping center collapses in Tehran after massive blaze

According to reports, numerous firefighters had reached the building to start rescue operations to help people trapped in the building.

The mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, said the firefighters who died in the collapse were "martyrs", Reuters reports.

At least 75 people in Tehran including 45 firefighters have been killed after responding to a huge fire in a commercial high rise building which caused the structure to collapse. However, witnesses said some people had slipped through the police cordon and gone back into the building.

A thick plume of brown smoke could be seen rising over the rubble as many onlookers cried.

In a nearby intersection, Abbas Nikkhoo stood with tears in his eyes. "He has been living with me since moving to Tehran previous year from the north of the country in hopes of finding a job".

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"We had repeatedly warned the building managers about the lack of safety of the building", fire brigade spokesman Jalal Malekias said, adding that it lacked fire extinguishers.

The Plasco building was an iconic presence on the Tehran skyline.

The Plasco building is a very old building in southern Tehran. "The semi-official news outlet reported the fire started around 8 am local time (4.40am GMT) local time when many shopkeepers were not inside the building".

The Iranian military sent units to help with the disaster, state television reported. Iranian media said the fire spread quickly through the building, which housed hundreds of clothing and garment manufacturers and highly flammable textiles.

It was built by Habibollah Elghanian, a prominent Iranian-Jewish businessman who was arrested for ties to Israel and sentenced to death and executed after the 1979 revolution. It wasn't immediately clear if the mall was damaged.

  • Sonia Alvarado