Nearly 32 people were killed in a massive fire that broke out early Friday at a drug rehabilitation center in northern Iran. The judiciary was investigating the cause of a fire at the drug rehab camp in Langarud, in the Caspian Sea province of Gilan. According to a police report, the death toll from a fire has risen to 32, up from 27 previously.
The province’s deputy governor Mohammad Jalai quoted that “32 people were killed in the fire” which broke out at a drug rehabilitation center in Langarud, a city in northern Gilan province. More than 16 people were injured in the fire, four of whom were in critical condition. The manager and other possible suspects have been arrested in order to find the true cause of the incident.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Iran has one of the world’s most severe addiction problems. This rehab center is located on the main poppy trafficking route from Afghanistan to Western Europe, which is the source of opium and heroin.
Source: East Coast Radio
The cause of the fire was not clear, but local authorities said the province’s chief justice Esmail Sadeghi had launched an investigation, noting that the center had a capacity of 40 people. He also stated that several suspects, including the center’s manager, had already been arrested.
The semi-official Fars news agency, portrays the reason through an initial investigation revealed that a faulty heater in the center was the reason for the fire that spread to the rest of the places.
Footage of the fire lit up the night sky and sent huge plumes of smoke into the air. Other footage showed emergency personnel, firefighters, and ambulances gathered outside the heavily damaged site after the fire was put out, with images showing the roof of the center being destroyed, windows shattered, and walls blackened by smoke.
The fire at the Langarud drug rehabilitation center was not a new incident. Similar mishaps have occurred in Iran in the past, highlighting systemic issues that must be addressed in order to protect those seeking treatment for drug addiction. To avoid future tragedies, the Iranian government must prioritize the improvement of safety measures in rehabilitation centers and channel investments into modernizing these facilities.
In August, a fire broke out in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, destroying several shops but leaving no one injured. A fire at Tehran’s 15-story Plasco shopping center in January 2017 killed at least 22 people, including 16 firefighters.
Such incidents are not uncommon, owing to a disregard for safety precautions, aging infrastructure, and insufficient emergency services.
For the second time in less than a week, a fire broke out at an Iranian Defence Ministry-owned car battery factory in September. There were no casualties reported.
Iran’s battle with drug addiction is frightening, noting its status as the country with the highest per-capita number of drug addicts in the world. The geography of Iran also makes it a significant trafficking route for Afghan opium. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Iran accounted for 47% of global heroin and morphine seizures were higher in Afghanistan in 2020. The dominance of drug addiction in Iran can be attributed to a variety of factors, including socio economic difficulties, limited access to treatment, and proximity to major drug-producing regions.
Iran has taken stringent measures to combat drug smuggling, including the death penalty for repeated drug smugglers and dealers. However, a punitive approach alone will not address the underlying causes of drug addiction. The Iranian government must shift its emphasis to prevention and treatment initiatives. A comprehensive and sympathetic approach is required to effectively address Iran’s drug addiction crisis and protect its citizens’ well-being.