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17 killed in Iran base blast

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:21 PM EST, Sat November 12, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 17, not 27 deaths and 16 injuries are reported, officials clarify
  • NEW: General dies as a result of the explosion
  • Some of the injured are in critical condition

Tehran (CNN) -- At least 17 people, including a general, died as a result of an explosion on a military base near Tehran, Iranian state media reported Saturday.

The blast happened around 1 p.m. (4:30 a.m. ET), when a munitions depot accidentally caught fire at the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) military base in Bidgeneh village, located on the outskirts of Shahriar city and about 35 kilometers (21 miles) west of Tehran, lawmaker Hossein Garousi, told state media. Earlier reports indicated that there may have been more than one explosion.

The IRGC revised initial reports that 27 people had died, the semi-official Fars agency reported.

Gen. Ramazan Sharif also told state media that the accident took place during an operation to "move some munitions and equipment needed for IRGC's current operations.

At least 16 people have been injured and some are in critical condition, Sharif said. Windows were shattered and buildings were damaged.

Fars also reported that Maj. Gen. Hassan Tehrani-Moqadam, in charge of IRGC's Office of Self sufficiency, was killed as a result of the explosion.

Deputy Police Chief Gen. Ahmadreza Radan told Fars that rescue workers were at the scene.

"Rescue workers are currently helping the victims. The explosion took place far from residential areas," Radan said, according to Fars. "The explosion is being investigated and the public will be informed of new developments."

Three teams of rescue dogs , together with three ambulances and several rescue teams were dispatched to the scene, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported, citing the Red Crescent. Rescue helicopters are also on alert and will help in transporting the wounded to hospital, the agency reported.

"The streets around the barracks have been closed to speed up the rescue mission. Only six rescue workers and six sniffer dogs were allowed to enter the barracks.," said the Islamic Republic News Agency, quoting Mahmoud Mozaffar, the head of Iran's Red Crescent Society. He said heavy smoke delayed and hampered rescue operations.

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr and Mitra Mobasherat contributed to this report

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