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Death toll from Iran tower block collapse rises to 14

Iranians gather at the site where a 10-storey building collapsed as rescue operations continue in the southwestern city of Abadan
— Tehran (AFP)

The death toll from the collapse of a tower block in southwestern Iran rose to 14 on Tuesday, as the authorities announced the arrest of officials accused of being "responsible" for the tragedy.

State television had said Monday that the 10-storey unfinished Metropol building in Abadan, the capital of Khuzestan province, had partially collapsed.

"According to the latest figures, 14 people died and 32 were injured," rising from Monday's death toll of six, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi told the official IRNA news agency from Abadan.

In addition to those confirmed dead or injured, dozens more are feared still trapped under the rubble.

Search efforts continue in a bid to rescue any "survivors", Vahidi said.

The building is located on Abadan's busiest street where "commercial, medical and office" buildings predominate, according to state television.

The judiciary's Mizan Online website said the building's owner, who was reported arrested on Monday, was among the dead.

The provincial judiciary said 10 people had been arrested, including the mayor and two former mayors, accused of being "responsible" for the collapse, the website said.

A number of municipal employees and supervisors of the building project were also among those arrested.

Several witnessed said in televised interviews that the tower block collapsed "suddenly".

An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the collapse.

Provincial authorities declared Wednesday a day of mourning.

Abadan, a city of some 230,000 people, lies 660 kilometres (410 miles) southwest of the capital.

In January 2017, 22 people -- including 16 firefighters -- died after fire engulfed the Plasco building, a 15-storey shopping centre which was Tehran's oldest high-rise.

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