By: Marjan Golpira

Plasco still in smoke with bodies trapped

News ID: 3884850 -
TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (MNA) – Just three days after the collapse of one of the most iconic buildings in Tehran, Plasco, smoke is still rising from the building and filling the air in the downtown area of the city.

Police forces have blocked off the area so that emergency crew carry on their job of removing the rubble and searching for people, mostly firemen who are trapped under the debris.

At this point it is perhaps safe to say that workers are looking for bodies underneath rubble as the chance of surviving has fast diminished.

In the midst of huge and heavy machineries and trucks, a couple of cranes were prominent, lifting debris from the pile of destruction and dumping it into large truck beds.

Water was being continuously sprayed on debris from three points, south, east, and west, to cool down the heat and fire, allowing the workers push and lift rubble.

Thick smoke giving off smell of burnt plastic material, had made breathing quite difficult, not to mention that it has also blocked the view of the surrounding. 

Many workers had ordinary masks on to prevent respiratory problems, wondering if they really could keep lungs healthy after inhalation of all that smoke for a longer duration of time.

Three heavy steel safe lock boxes, disfigured and beaten and pulled from rubble, were lying around.

The adjacent building still had manikins at its window display, a sign that there was once life and shopping in the unrecognizable location. 

Getting access to the building site is an unimaginable task but once you are in the very first thing jumping at you is a fallen building with massive amount of rubble, which resembles pretty much a war zone.

Emergency workers from fire department, municipality, Red Crescent Society and other organizations are working round the clock to bring the bodies out of tons of dust and heavy metals.

Around 25 people, including 15 firemen, are reported missing along with a number of shop keepers of the building, not to mention the passersby.

Many have speculated the reasons behind the fire blaze, but as Ahmad Masjed-Jamei, a member Tehran City Council put it, “it remains unclear.”

As one of the first people arriving at the scene, Masjed-Jamei blamed the incoordination of crisis management at the site in the first hour of the accident for the late response.  

“I immediately contacted the governor and some higher ups who showed up an hour or two later; I kept asking for authorities and the reply was they are on their way; they took too long.”

Calling the “golden hours” - of search and rescue - really vital, the member of City Council believed there was “a breakdown in crisis management” during those hours.

Another official at the site was Iran’s Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian who pointed the finger at ignoring building maintenance standard operating procedures.

“All high rises in Iran, be it residential or commercial, should comply with standard safety procedures to prevent future accidents of such.”

The minister added that there is little monitoring on privately owned building safety regulations and that calls for trouble.

Mehdi Chamran, the chair of Tehran City Council also expressed his view on the accident and said, “We had warned the building management to provide fire safety and protection system for the construction a few times.”

Chamran, too, highlighted that fire breakouts should be prevented at all costs.

As of now, smoke is still rising from the tumble-down building and Iranians are mourning over the loss of their firemen and some citizens, an accident that many believe could have been avoided.

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