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Iran Safety NGO Says Killer Blazes Are Due To Violations, Lack Of Enforcement

Firefighters at the scene of a blast at Sina At'har Clinic in northern Tehran. July 1, 2020.

The chairman of Iran's National Safe Society Association (NSSA) warned about inadequate safety measures in public buildings which led to the death of nineteen people in an explosion in a medical clinic in Tehran on Wednesday.

The explosion at the clinic was caused by a gas leak and faulty electrical wiring in the basement of the building where oxygen tanks were stored. The blast killed nineteen people and wounded fourteen others despite the efforts of firefighters to save the people in the building. Authorities say most of the casualties were among the medical staff.

Mentioning the collapse of the 17-story Plasco Shopping Arcade in a blaze in 2017 that killed fifteen firefighters and five others, NSSA's Javad Nofarasti said the authorities did not take a lesson from the disastrous incident and failed to take serious action to check public buildings for safety which led to the recent disaster at Sina At'har Clinic on Wednesday. The clinic is situated in the affluent but densely populated Tajrish district of Tehran and could have killed many more if firefighters had not managed to extinguish the fire and stop it from spreading to adjacent buildings.

The police on Wednesday announced that several people, including the manager of the building, had been arrested in connection with the incident.

Nofarasti added that the problem is not lack of regulations, but rather ignoring them. According to him the owners of the building had received several warnings about the safety of the building from the municipality but not taken any steps to make the building safe. In the case of the Plasco building warnings had been issued and ignored too.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday issued a message of condolence and called on the authorities to fully investigate the accident and prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.

Similar orders have been issues before but enforcement of building code and safety regulations remain weak in Iran.