Powerful explosions followed by fire, shook Sina Athar clinic in northern Tehran on Tuesday, 8:56 PM local time. Sina Athar clinic
Initial reports suggested 19 killedand 15 injured. Most of the casualties were female hospital staff who were suffocated due to heavy smoke.
سخنگوی سازمان آتش نشانی و خدمات ایمنی شهرداری تهران با بیان اینکه ۵ نفر دیگر در حادثه انفجار و آتش سوزی کلینیک درمانی در شمال تهران جان باختند، گفت: تعداد کشته های حادثه آتش سوزی کلینیک سینا اطهر تجریش به ۱۹ نفر رسید pic.twitter.com/bkQOW7ZtEA
— Freedom Messenger (@freedommesenger) June 30, 2020
According to city officials, the fire ignited in the electric system and soon reached the basement where the oxygen cylinders were kept. Two large and three small cylinders exploded in the basement and the narrow stairways acted as a smoke tunnel, channelizing the explosion to the operation rooms in the upper floors. Due to lack of sufficientairways and windows,the smoke lead to suffocation of the staff and patients. Several bodies were found in the wardrobes.A couple of patients who fled to the bathrooms survived with injuries. A video that went viral, shows some of the trapped people trying to break a window to get some air.
People in the upper floors of #SinaAthar clinic in #Tehran trying to break the windows to get some air 😰 around 9 PM local time, Tuesday night.
Most of the 19 victims were suffocated.
This is the second explosion in Tehran in 4 days.
Enough is enough. 😡#سينا_اطهر#سینااطهر pic.twitter.com/a6AUlfycVY
— Iran Arab Spring (@IranArabSpring) July 2, 2020
This 5-floor clinic had received four previous warnings from inspectorssince 2015. The buildingsemergency system was only designed for residential and not for commercial use.Itdid not have sophisticated fire extinguishers.The stairs were not designed for emergency, and the electricity had major problems. After the fourth warning,onlyan alarming system was set up, but no extinguishers were placed. Large amount of oxygen cylinders was also kept in the hospital basement without safety standards.
This incident comes four days after another explosion in Parchinmilitary complex, southeast of Tehran. Defense Ministry officials insist that the Parchin explosion was due to leaking gas tanks with no casualties,a statement strongly doubted by the public. Parchin complex is a nuclear site. Iran has refused the International Atomic Energy Agency to access the site for many years.
The Tuesday nightexplosion at Sina Athar clinic brought back memories of Plasco explosion three years ago. In January 2017, a large iconic 16 floor shopping center in Tehran called Plasco, collapsed completely after an electronic shorting, which led to 22 deaths, including 16 fire fighters.
Plasco was built in 1962 and was among the first modern high-rise shopping centers in the Middle East. After the 1979 revolution, The Mostazafan Foundation (Foundation of the Dispossessed) established by the government to absorb the assets of Shah and wealthy private individuals, took over the Plasco Building, renting it out to more than 400 businesses.Four months after the collapse, the government issued a report which stated that Mostazafan Foundation had ignored warnings given by the authorities and that government ministries had failed to enforce 22 national building regulations.The current Speaker of the Parliament, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, was the Mayor of Tehran at the time and the hashtag “resignation” became a trend on Farsi Twitter alongside his name.
2020 has brought many bitter incidents to the Iranian people; the Ukraine International Airlines, Flight 752 was shot down by IRGC missiles,killingall 176 passengers on boardduring the Ghasem Souleimani revenge operation. Iranbecame the epicenter of Coronavirus in the Middle East. And again,on May 10, a support vessel was drowned by “friendly fire” and 19 of the crew were killed during a military maneuver. At the same time, the forests in Zagros mountains, West of Iran, are burning and the nature is being destroyed. This government has brought more tragedythan ever to the Iranian people which leaves strong doubts about how it is going to survive 2020.
Writer: Ali Reza Assadzadeh LEVANT