In Iran, one of the worst cinema fires in history has killed 377 people. Others?
In Iran, one of the worst cinema fires in history has killed 377 people. Others dying of their injuries in hospital will bring total death toll to 430, according to Iranian newspaper estimates. The disaster came as the country was recovering from anti-government riots.
SYNOPSIS: The Rex cinema in Abadan was crowded with women and children when the fire broke out. The toll comes close to the worst ever in any cinema fire, and has sparked demonstrations against political violence in several towns. The Prime Minister, Dr. Jamshid Amouzegar described it as a national catastrophe, and Reuters says it is widely assumed that agitators opposed to the Shah of Iran were to blame.
The political atmosphere in Iran was already strained, especially in Isfahan, better known for the beauty of its mosques. On the day after the fire, Iran's Majlis, the Assembly, confirmed the marital law declared on 11 August in Isfahan, which was later extended to other towns in Isfahan province. In rioting, 15 people are reported to have been killed, and hundreds injured. Features that are regarded as progressive in Iranian society were attacked. They included banks, restaurants and a luxury hotel.
The government response has been the extensive use of armed police and troops, material law and a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Reuters report more than 100 arrests of rioters and curfew-breakers. The agency says that a mixture of economic discontent coupled with religious fervour, coinciding with the Moslem fast of Ramadan, have been factors in the unrest. The Shah of Iran blames Communist agitators as well as Conservative Islamic fanatics. Now, however, order has been restored under the guns of the troops in Isfahan.
Just hours after the cinema fire in Abadan, the Shah said that despite his conservative opponents he would pursue his plans for liberalisation.