On May 23, the ten-story twin towers of Metropol in Abadan city in the southwestern province of Khuzestan suddenly collapsed. The tragedy has reportedly claimed the lives of at least 40 victims, and many more have sustained injuries.; however, the people continuing the rescue mission are pulling out more lifeless bodies from under the rubble. Locals have said that there are more than 50 people died.
On June 1, the semiofficial Eghtesad Online website stated, “From Plasco [building collapse in Tehran] to Metropol, compatriots wait for enlightenment,” showing the people’s outrage against the regime’s failures that have led to such catastrophes.
The twenty-story Plasco commercial building in the Iranian capital collapsed on January 19, 2017, following a high-rise fire. Many people, mainly firefighters, lost their lives, which turned the event into a significant constructing disaster in Iran.
The Eghtesad Online website also said, “The Metropol disaster prompted Tehran’s City Council to think about unsafe buildings in the capital. In such circumstances, Mayor Alireza Zakani tries to show the situation is normal.”
On May 29, Qodratollah Mohammadi, Tehran’s Firefighting Organization director-general, and the City Council’s Safety Services chief attended the city council to explain the organization’s approach toward unsafe buildings, including several hospitals and universities. Covering the city council’s session, the official IRNA news agency wrote, “Constructing unsafe buildings is a deadly business.”
During the session, Mohammadi said, “We have sent written alert notes to 129 owners. We gave them a six-month deadline. We would refer the cases to the judiciary and follow legal procedures if convinced that the owners took no action. The judiciary should issue necessary rulings for evacuation.”
On the same day, the Ensaf News website published a list that included the names and locations of 129 buildings across Tehran. In the article, it wrote, “The last City Council had received this report from the firefighting organization, which forced then-mayor Piruz Hanachi to publish the list based on Shaffafiyat [transparency] platform and deal with the owners. However, he refused to deal with them due to some institutions’ requests.”
The Bu-Ali Sina, Fajr, Shohaday-e Yaftabad, Fayyazbakhsh, Qiyassi, Ziaeian, Bahar, Amin, Torfeh, and Shahabadi hospitals are among the unsafe buildings listed. The list also mentioned Shahed, Dr. Shariati Technical, University Professional, and Khomeini’s monument as unsafe structures.
Several residential apartment names are also listed as unsafe buildings, including Behzisti [welfare], Eram, Golestan, and Valiasr. Ensaf News also revealed the names of hazardous bazaars, towers, restaurants, warehouses, malls, refineries, factories, car parks, and administrative-commercial complexes in Tehran.
Firefighting Organization spokesperson Jalal Maleki rejected the list, saying, “The firefighting organization does not approve this list. However, this disapproval does not mean that these buildings are safe.”
Organization director-general Mohammadi also rejected the list. He said, “Tehran’s Firefighting Organization does not endorse the list at all, and this list is invalid. There is no relation between this list and the organization.”
The government’s frustration over the number of unsafe buildings in the capital shows devastating mismanagement and failure, which put the threat of further collapses on the horizon. It should be noted that Tehran sits on three major fault lines and several small and scattered ones, making it one of the most dangerous cities globally, with severe threats of destruction from earthquakes.
On June 3, the Arman-e Melli website wrote, “The clue of Abadan’s incident is behind the curtain. The consequences of Abadan’s incident continue, and the number of victims rises every day. This incident took place due to behind-the-curtain relations. Why do such incidents happen in the country, and where is its root?”
It added, “Indeed, the [Metropol] owner had illegal relations with several Abadan municipality managers. Therefore, the municipality issued construction licenses for the complex, which did not meet legal standards. “Several rich individuals intervene in government bodies and pursue their goals due to their influence. This is a social phenomenon that people witness every day. Do you consider the Metropol owner as of the main culprit?”
The Metropol collapse has sounded the alarm bells about the government’s urban failures, which have endangered the lives of millions of citizens across the country. Many people are no longer sure about the safety of their residential units and workplaces.
Worse still, the regime is continuing to keep citizens in the dark, as it fears further outbreaks of protests. Such approaches are only fueling the people’s fury against the entire regime, which desperately trying to downplay substantial threats posed to many people’s life and health in order to deter public grievances.