The death toll in the 10-storey commercial building collapse in Abadan city of Iran has surged to 19, news agencies reported.
So far, 37 have been injured and are under treatment in various hospitals, Ehsan Abbaspour, deputy governor of Khuzestan Province told media.
About 2,000 workers have been pressed into rescue operations, which will continue until the last casualty is evacuated.
The incident happened on Tuesday afternoon when suddenly the building started to collapse. Pictures showed that concrete floors and steel beams had fallen on to the street below, crushing several cars.
Officials said the cause of the collapse was being investigated.
Meanwhile, the city’s mayor, Hossain Hamidpur has been arrested in a widening probe of the disaster.
According to the semiofficial ILNA news agency and online videos, an angry crowd at the site had chased and roughed up the mayor immediately after the collapse. However, the police intervened later to control the situation.
Along with Hamidpur, nine others were also arrested, Iranian media reported.
Initially, authorities said the building's owner and its general contractor were arrested as well, though a later report said that the two men were killed in the collapse.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi offered his condolences and appealed to the local authorities to get to the bottom of the case.
A separate parliament inquiry has also been ordered to determine why the cause of the incident during a sandstorm.