At least 38 firefighters were injured when a blazing high-rise commercial building in downtown Tehran collapsed, state television reported on Thursday.
One witness described the 17-storey tower’s collapse as like a “scene from a horror movie.”
The building’s occupants were evacuated before the collapse, state TV said, but firefighters were still trying to control the blaze when it came crashing to the ground in a giant cloud of dust.
Rescue teams were at the scene, state TV said.
“Some firefighters might be trapped inside the building,” state TV reported.
The Plasco building in southern Tehran was more than 50 years old. The semi-official Tasnim news agency said it “had caught fire in the past”.
Tasnim reported that the fire had started on the ninth floor.
A fire department spokesman told state TV that the building’s occupants, mostly garment manufacturers, “had been warned repeatedly by the municipality to evacuate the building because of safety concerns.”
The owner of a nearby grocery store, forced by police to leave the area, told Reuters by telephone that “it was like a horror movie. The building collapsed in front of me.”
The semi-official Fars news agency said police had cordoned off the British and Turkish Embassies that are located near the Plasco building.
“The flames could be seen kilometers away from the old building,” the Fars news agency reported.