By Stephen Ryan, IFRC
In the morning hours of Thursday, 19 January 2017, emergency response teams of the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran were called to the scene of a fire at Plasco Building, a shopping centre in downtown Tehran. Despite the best efforts over several hours by firefighters, the blaze in the upper floors of the old building could not be extinguished and shortly before noon part of the building collapsed. The fire emergency had now escalated a major tragedy, requiring a much larger response from emergency workers, including Red Crescent search and rescue teams.
“Operational teams and relief workers of the Iranian Red Crescent Society were immediately deployed to the scene to quickly start search and rescue operation, provide relief to victims of this disaster and help people trapped under debris and rubbles,” said Morteza Salimi, Head of Red Crescent Relief and Rescue Organisation.
In all, 70 Red Crescent rescuers were on the scene to assist in search and rescue and relief activities, supported by a Red Crescent helicopter. The priority was to assist those trapped beneath the rubble and provide medical assistance to the injured. Mr. Salimi also added that Red Crescent 12 search and rescue dog teams had been sent to help in the search for survivors, along with 10 ambulances and 8 further 4×4 vehicles to transport the wounded to hospitals.
Dr Seyed Amir Mohsen Ziaee, President of the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran joined Mr Salimi at the scene of the tragedy immediately after the incident to directly supervise the rescue and relief efforts of the Red Crescent teams. The Tehran provincial Red Crescent branch ensured that all local branches have been put on alert, ready to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by this incident. The neighbouring provincial branch of Ghom also deployed rescue workers on Friday morning to assist the Tehran branch as rescue operations continued.
The number of lives lost in this tragedy in Tehran is yet to be confirmed, but several firefighters are thought to have lost their lives in the collapse, and dozens of people were injured. Red Crescent teams, along with response teams under the direction of the National Disaster Management Organization have assured treatment to the injured, and continue search and rescue efforts.
Read the latest article on this emergency by Iranian Red Crescent.