Tehran: 19 Killed in Medical Clinic Explosion, 1 of 5 Suspects Arrested

Iranian security and rescue staff work at the site of an explosion at the Sina At'har health centre in the upmarket northern neighbourhood of Tajrish in the capital Tehran on July 1, 2020. - Iranian police questioned four people as part of investigations into a powerful explosion that killed 19 …
ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

Tehran police have arrested one person in connection with an explosion at a medical clinic that killed at least 19 people, Radio Farda reported Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr announced that “an order has been issued to summon five possible culprits of the accident [on Tuesday] and one person has been arrested in this regard.”

Tehran Deputy Gov. Hamidreza Goudarzi said that the Tuesday blast at the Sina At’har Health Center was caused by a leak from medical gas tanks in the clinic.

“The explosion was caused by a gas leak,” Goudarzi told Iranian state TV, according to the Jerusalem Post. This explanation was later supported by the Tehran Fire Department, with Maleki saying that gas canisters caught on fire in the clinic’s basement, causing the explosion.

Authorities initially stated that 13 people were killed in Tuesday night’s explosion, but the death toll was updated to 19 after “six more bodies” were later recovered from the site of the blast, Tehran Fire Department spokesman Jalal Maleki said. According to Maleki, 15 women and four men died in the blast, while firefighters rescued 20 additional people.

“Six of those who died were in the operating room [at the time of the explosion],” Iran News Wire reported on Tuesday, adding that “the dead and injured were patients at the clinic.” Video footage shared by the outlet shows a firefighter injured during the incident being transferred to an ambulance.

On Wednesday, Iran News Wire revealed that “half of the 19 people who died” in the explosion on Tuesday “were medical staff.” According to the news outlet, “two of the doctors [killed] have been identified as ENT specialist Dr. Akbari and anesthesiologist Dr. Soltanipour. [Additional victim] Dr. Turani, a surgeon, is in critical condition.” 

Patients of the Sina At’har clinic injured in the blast were transferred to nearby Tajrish Hospital for medical treatment, according to Tehran prosecutor Alqasimehr.

Local eyewitness video footage posted online on Tuesday appears to show that more than one explosion occurred at the clinic, Radio Farda reports. Initial reports on Iranian state TV on Tuesday indicated that “there could be more blasts” because there were “a number of oxygen tanks remaining in the clinic.”

Tuesday’s incident comes just four days after Tehran’s Defense Ministry said on June 26 that a separate explosion took place at a gas-storage facility east of Tehran due to “leaking gas tanks.” No casualties were reported. The gas-storage facility is located near a “sensitive military site,” according to Radio Farda.

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