fireOver 20 firefighters have been confirmed dead in Tehran after battling a blaze when a 50-year-old multi-story building collapsed.

This was confirmed by the city’s mayor, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, while talking to the Iranian state TV channel, Iran News Network.

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According to him, the men lost their lives while attempting to save people who were in the building when it collapsed.

The cause of the fire, which engulfed the building that serves as office to many companies, is still being investigated.

Earlier Thursday, Tehran’s fire department spokesman Jalal Maleki told IRINN an estimated 20 to 30 firefighters were on the third floor of the high-rise Plasco building when it collapsed. He also said 35 firefighters were currently unaccounted for and help was being offered by rescue workers to dig them out.

The journalist on the scene, who spoke to CNN but declined to be named, said police and other uniformed security personnel have blocked the area and are not allowing people or cars to enter.

He said several firefighters were still inside the collapsed building when he arrived at the scene.

They were frantically digging and trying to save their colleagues who were trapped but were ordered out by their commander who then assigned them specific tasks.

According to CNN, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported that the Plasco building -a downtown commercial garment building and one of Tehran’s oldest high-rises- “no longer exists.”