Iranians demand resignation of Tehran mayor over high-rise inferno
The collapse of the Iranian capital's oldest high-rise building following a blaze last week has provoked public outcry, with people demanding the resignation of Tehran's mayor amid accusations of mismanagement and neglect.
Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf was in the holy city of Qom – 125 kilometres southwest of Tehran – when the 15-storey Plasco building in downtown Tehran collapsed on Thursday, leaving dozens of firefighters dead or trapped under the rubble.
He quickly returned to Tehran upon receiving news of the tragic incident.
As rescue teams continued for the third consecutive day to search for bodies of firefighters feared to have lost their lives under the rubble, outraged Iranians called for Ghalibaf's resignation using the Persian-language hashtag #GhalibafResign.
Translation: Demanding the resignation of an underserving executive whose mismanagement has caused the death of a large number of our countrymen is a humane move and not political exploitation.
Transaltion: When the firefighting equipment is rudimentary while the [Tehran] municipality is among the most high-income institutions, questioning Ghalibaf is not political exploitation [of the tragedy].
The government announced a national day of mourning on Saturday for the firefighters, with the cabinet releasing a statement "praising these great men of sacrifice".
President Hassan Rouhani, who visited the site on Saturday, called for an immediate investigation.
Iran also lowered the flags at its embassies across the world to half-mast.
The Plasco building was Iran's oldest high-rise and contained a shopping centre and hundreds of clothing suppliers.
When completed in 1962, it was Iran's tallest building, before being dwarfed by the construction boom of later years.It was built by Habibollah Elghanian, a prominent Iranian-Jewish businessman who was arrested for alleged ties to Israel and executed after the 1979 Islamic revolution.