Some 200 people were injured in the fire Monday at a Tehran mosque, including this man who was rushed into a local hospital. news services
updated 2/14/2005 4:45:00 PM ET 2005-02-14T21:45:00

At least 59 worshippers were killed and 250 were injured when fire broke out in a mosque in central Tehran on Monday, Iran's state-run news media reported.

The coroner’s office said 59 people had died, the official Islamic Republic News Agency news agency reported. Many people flocked to the Arg mosque searching for relatives and friends.

The fire, sparked by a malfunctioning power circuit, started as hundreds of worshippers were performing evening prayers, a state-run television report said.

IRNA said a long sheet of cloth segregating men from women caught fire and then quickly spread throughout the mosque.

“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.

A doctor said many of the burns were caused by the quick-burning acrylic material used to make chadors. He saw many people with lacerations from broken glass. Others had broken legs after hurling themselves from high windows.

The mosque is close to the historic Golestan Palace where Reza Khan was crowned as Reza Shah Pahlavi in the 1920s and the huge Tehran bazaar, the heart of business in the capital.

The mosque was crowded with worshippers for a major Shiite Muslim festival.

A Reuters reporter driving to the mosque said roads had been blocked and ambulances were rushing from the scene.

Shiite Muslims are pouring into mosques to commemorate the death of the 7th century Shiite martyr Hossein, who was killed on the battlefield of Kerbala in Iraq.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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