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At least 11 dead in Iran building collapse

RESCUERS dug through debris of a building collapse in south-western Iran that killed at least 11 people today as authorities arrested the city’s mayor in a widening probe of the disaster.

The collapse on Monday of an under-construction 10-storey tower at the Metropol Building exposed its cement blocks and steel beams while also underscoring an ongoing crisis in Iranian construction projects that has seen other disasters in the earthquake-prone nation.

Footage of the collapse showed thick dust rise over Abadan, a crucial oil-producing city in Khuzestan province, near Iran’s border with Iraq.

The Metropol Building included two towers, one already built and the other under construction, though its bottom commercial floors had finished and already had tenants.

An emergency official interviewed on state television suggested that some 50 people may have been inside the building at the time of the collapse, including people moving into its basement floors.

However, it was not clear if that figure included those already pulled from the rubble. At least 39 people were injured, most of them lightly, official said earlier.

An angry crowd at the site chased and beat Abadan mayor Hossein Hamidpour immediately after the collapse, according to the ILNA news agency and online videos.

Police later arrested Mr Hamidpour and nine others, Iranian media reported ealier today.

Initially, authorities said the building’s owner and its general contractor had been arrested as well, though a later report from the judiciary’s Mizan news agency said that the two men had been killed in the collapse.

The conflicting reports could not be immediately reconciled.

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