Iranian officials say hopes are fading for finding survivors in the rubble of a 17-story commercial building that collapsed in Tehran on January 19 and is thought to have killed at least 20 firefighters.
Esmail Najjar, chief of the city’s emergency services, said on January 20 that it is very unlikely anyone will be pulled out alive from the rubble.
Different government agencies have released death tolls among firefighters ranging from 20 to 30.
The number of missing remained unclear on January 20, but one official played down reports that at least 25 were missing -- telling Iran's Fars News Agency that "maybe five people who worked in the building" were inside when it collapsed.
Thick smoke and fire has hampered efforts to reach possible survivors or the bodies of the firefighters killed while evacuating people from a fire at the iconic Plasco building, which housed a shopping center and hundreds of clothing suppliers.
Authorities estimated damages of $500 million and said many businesses in the building were not insured.