Published10 minutes ago
At least 32 people have been killed in a fire that tore through a drug rehabilitation centre in northern Iran, authorities have said.
The blaze erupted early on Friday in Langarud, a city in the Caspian Sea province of Gilan north of Tehran.
Esmail Sadeghi, a provincial chief justice, told local media that 16 others were taken to hospital.
Iran imposes a death penalty on repeat drug smugglers and dealers but runs a series of rehab programmes for addicts.
The cause of the fire was not immediately clear but Mr Sadeghi said an investigation “was under way”, according to local reports. The centre accommodated up to 40 people.
Isna, a semi-official Iranian news agency, shared footage of the fire which lit up the sky and sent huge plumes of smoke into the air.
Other images showed the heavily damaged site after the fire was contained.
Iran is estimated to have the world’s highest per-capita number of opioid addicts and sits on a major smuggling route for opium grown in Afghanistan.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s world drug report this year said that Iran made 47% of the global heroin and morphine seizures originating from Afghanistan during 2020.
Amnesty International said in a June report that Iran had executed at least 173 people convicted of drug-related offences this year after “systematically unfair trials”.
The figure was nearly three times more than this time last year, the rights group added.