The 17-story Plasco building in central Tehran collapsed in flames on Thursday. Iran's state-run Press TV said 30 firefighters battling the blaze were killed and 75 others injured in the disaster. The fire broke out at about 8 a.m. local time, and everybody was evacuated before the building crumbled. Reports of deaths and injuries weren't uniform — a local TV station said 30 people were injured with the state-run INRA news agency put the number of those injured at 45. But the collapse was clearly sudden and swift, as captured live during an interview on state TV:
"It was like a horror movie," a grocery story owner told Reuters by phone. "The building collapsed in front of me."
The Plasco building, just south of Tehran's bazaar, was built in the early 1960s by an Iranian Jew, Habib Elghanian, who named it after his plastics business. It was the city's tallest building when it was completed. Elghanian was executed soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution after been tried on charges including espionage, The Associated Press reports, prompting an exodus of Iran's Jewish community.