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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 February, 2005, 09:40 GMT
Dozens killed in Iran mosque fire
Workers clean the yard of the Ark mosque where the fire broke out
The mosque was packed when the blaze broke out
At least 59 people have been killed by a fire that raged through a crowded mosque in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Some 210 people were injured in the incident in the centre of the city, the head of Tehran's security forces said.

The reports said the blaze broke out as worshippers gathered in the Ark mosque near Tehran's main bazaar.

Relatives of the injured have been rushing from hospital to hospital trying to locate their loved ones. A TV appeal has been made for blood donors.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire, which started as hundreds of people were attending evening prayers.

Initial reports have suggested the blaze could have been caused by a kerosene heater in the women section which ignited a woman's chador.

But state television said the cause was an electrical short circuit.

A tarpaulin cloth separating male and female sections of the mosque reportedly caught fire falling on top of the crowd, and the flames soon spread.

Map indicating location of Iran and Tehran
Terrified worshippers tried to escape the flames through the main exit, causing a stampede that led to many of the injuries.

"I saw some women throw themselves out of a second floor window - some died like that, others from smoke inhalation," said one of the guards at the mosque.

"My mother and two sisters were inside and I do not know what happened to them," a girl called Manizheh told the Reuters news agency.

She was among the many who flocked to the mosque to look for loved ones after the fire.

The mosque is one of the oldest in the capital. It can accommodate up to 4,000 worshippers.




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Watch footage of the fire-ravaged mosque



SEE ALSO:
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13 Jan 05 |  Middle East
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26 Jun 04 |  Middle East
Deaths mount in Iran train blast
19 Feb 04 |  Middle East


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