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Iran disperses crowd angry over 29 killed in building collapse

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Iranian riot police fired tear gas and shot into the air to disperse an angry crowd of hundreds of people near the site of a building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan, online video analysed yesterday showed.

One report by Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency also acknowledged the unrest on Friday over the disaster this week that killed at least 29 people, with more feared still buried under the rubble of the 10-storey building.

Videos shared online showed a massive crowd of hundreds near the Metropol Building on Friday night, with lights shining on its facade.

A second video showed demonstrators at street level chanting: “Our enemy is here; they lie that it is America!”

A third showed an angry crowd with one shot heard. The person filming turned and ran, shouting: “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

Iranians gather at the site where a 10-storey building collapsed as rescue operations continue. PHOTO: AFP

The details in the videos corresponded with each other and to known features of Abadan, some 660 kilometres southwest of the capital, Tehran.

Foreign-based Farsi-language television channels described tear gas and other shots being fired.

Fars described the situation as a riot that forced police to intervene. It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was injured or if police made any arrests.

In other cities people gathered peacefully to mourn, Fars and human rights activists reported.

However, angry crowds have been gathering in Abadan.

Authorities acknowledge the building’s owner and corrupt government officials allowed construction to continue at the Metropol Building despite concerns over its shoddy workmanship. Authorities have arrested 13 people as part of a broad investigation into the disaster, including the city’s mayor.

Rescue teams pulled three more bodies from the rubble yesterday, bringing the death toll in the collapse to 29.