The death toll in a catastrophic tower collapse in southwestern Iran rose to at least 38 on Sunday, state television reported, as emergency workers pulled another body from the rubble. among fears that even more people are caught up in the destruction.
It is unclear how many more people are still missing in the collapse of the still-under-construction tower of the Metropol building in Abadan nearly two weeks ago. Rescue teams are still working and families are still waiting for news of their loved ones, despite promises that the search operation would be over by now.
The structural failure of the building in the oil-rich but impoverished province of Khuzestan has focused public attention on shoddy construction practices and prompted massive accusations of government corruption and negligence. Authorities have arrested 13 people as part of a wide-ranging investigation into the disaster, including Abadan Mayor Hossein Hamidpour, who resigned last Friday.
Protesters have gathered to honor victims at the collapse site, criticizing top officials and demanding accountability, according to videos widely shared on social media and analyzed by The Associated Press. However, reporting on events in Abadan remains extremely difficult as the threat of arrest looms. Authorities have suspended Internet access, according to experts, restricting people’s ability to share videos and information.
In an effort to deal with public mistrust, President Ebrahim Raisi paid a surprise visit to Abadan last Friday, where he inspected the disaster site and personally offered his condolences to the families of the victims. During their trip, the businessmen filed complaints about the extent of corruption in local government, state media reported.