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TEHRAN: Thirty-two people died when a massive blaze ripped through a drug rehab centre in northern Iran early on Friday, local media reported.

“Thirty-two people have been killed in the fire” which erupted at a drug rehabilitation centre in Langarud, a city in the northern Gilan province, said Fars news agency quoting the province’s deputy governor Mohammad Jalai.

Jalai said 16 others were wounded in the blaze, four of whom were in “critical condition”.

The blaze began during the night when a heater caught fire with the flames setting light to the curtains, he told Fars.

The fact that the rehab centre was overcrowded and that those being treated were not able to freely leave contributed “to the high number of casualties,” he added.

The judiciary’s Mizan Online news website had earlier reported 27 dead and 12 wounded, noting the centre had a capacity for just 40 people.

The province’s chief justice Esmail Sadeghi said several suspects had already been arrested including the manager of the rehab centre, which was called: “The First Step Toward Freedom”.

Footage of the fire broadcast by ISNA news agency showed the flames lighting up the night sky and sending huge plumes of smoke into the air.

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