Tehran, Jun 30 (efe-epa).- At least 19 people were killed on Tuesday in what is thought to be a gas explosion in the basement of a clinic in northern Tehran, which also caused a large blaze.
Tehran fire department spokesperson Jalal Maleki reported that 15 of the dead at Sina At’har health center were women.
The authorities initially reported 13 deaths, but once the blaze was extinguished hours later, firefighters recovered six more bodies, bringing the toll to 19.
Maleki told state television that some of the victims were on the upper floors “in operation rooms – who were either patients being operated on or those with them.”
“They unfortunately lost their lives due to the heat and thick smoke,” he said.
Seven more were injured and taken to hospital, while several were treated at the scene, according to ISNA news agency.
The explosion occurred at about 9 pm local time (16:30 GMT) in the basement at the health center, causing a huge plume of thick black smoke.
Emergency crews, including ambulances and firefighters, were deployed to the scene of the incident, located on the important Shariati Avenue, near the busy Tajrish bazaar.
The situation around the medical center was chaotic even several hours after the explosion due to the presence of numerous relatives of patients and possible victims, according to EFE.
Those gathered were crying and screaming, as most did not know whether their relatives were dead or alive. At least one of them fainted and had to be treated in an ambulance.
Riot police were also deployed to the area to prevent family members and journalists from entering.
The incident occurred five days after another major explosion, also due to a gas leak, occurred near a military base in the Parchin area near the Iranian capital.
Parchin is a site suspected of having been involved in the country’s nuclear program, which the country denies. It came under scrutiny from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency in 2015 when Director-General Yukiya Amano visited to collect samples. EFE-EPA