Iran mourns building collapse victims as toll tops 30

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Hundreds of people gathered in southwestern Iran to pay their respects to dozens who died in a building collapse, local media said Monday, as two more bodies were discovered.

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The 10-storey Metropol building, located on a busy street in Abadan, a city in Khuzestan province, was under construction when parts of it imploded on May 23, in one of Iran’s deadliest such disasters in years.

Two more bodies were discovered under the rubble on Monday morning, taking the confirmed death toll to 31, according to the Red Crescent.

“Residents of Khuzestan wept for the victims” as they gathered on Sunday evening at the invitation of the imam of Abadan, the Fars news agency reported.

Sunday had been declared a day of national mourning by the government.

Hundreds of people shouted to drown out a speech by Mohsen Heydari, a local representative of the committee of experts, the body that selects Iran’s supreme leader.

Others streamed onto a platform used by state television, knocking a camera to the ground, Tasnim news agency said, noting that police called on people to leave the scene to avoid escalating tensions.

The provincial governor had said on Sunday that a total of 38 people were reported as missing in the disaster, indicating that seven now remain unaccounted for, after the new discoveries on Monday.

Night-time protests over the disaster have been a regular fixture in Abadan and elsewhere in the province since Wednesday night, as citizens have demanded local officials be held to account.

Thirteen people, including the mayor of Abadan and two former mayors, have been arrested in connection with the building collapse.

Demonstrations have also been reported in the central Iranian cities of Isfahan and Yazd.

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