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Iran: Building collapse death toll rises as protests continue

Death toll reaches 34 as anger boils over against incompetence and corruption that allegedly led to building collapse in southern city
Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber (2nd-R) visiting the site where a 10-storey building collapsed in the southwestern city of Abadan on 27 May 2022 (AFP/handout)

Demonstrations have continued in Iran for a second week as anger mounts over the fatal collapse of a building in the south of the country last week.

So far, 34 people have been confirmed dead by emergency crews as they continue to comb the remains of the 10-storey Metropol complex, which was under construction in Abadan, one of the main cities of Khuzestan province.

"The total number of fatalities stands at 34 with the discovery of another body this morning," reported state news agency IRNA on Tuesday, quoting the city's governor Ehsan Abbaspour.

Four people are so far unaccounted for from the 38 people authorities had previously said were missing in the collapse on 23 May, on one of the busiest streets in the city.

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Although the provincial judiciary has announced 13 arrests in connection to the collapse, protests have taken place over the past week in Abadan and in other cities across Khuzestan calling for retribution against the those responsible for the incident.

Demonstrators chanted "incompetent officials must be executed" while some videos posted on social media appeared to show chants of "Death to Khamenei", referring to the country's supreme leader.

Police have fired tear gas at demonstrators and live ammunition into the air.

The opposition social media account 1500Tasvir, which posts information on anti-government demonstrations in Iran, said on Monday that some protesters had been killed.

Middle East Eye was not able to confirm this independently.

Hundreds of hecklers also drowned out a speech by a local member of the Assembly of Experts - the body that selects Iran's supreme leader - at a memorial ceremony in Abadan late on Sunday.

Local channel Abadan TV cut off live footage of the event after members of the crowd could be heard loudly chanting the word "shameless".

Iran has seen sporadic protests in recent years as a combination of corruption, an economic crisis, and falling living standards - all exacerbated by harsh sanctions imposed by the US - have provoked outbursts of anger across the country.

Negotiations to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that would provide sanctions relief have stalled in Geneva.