At least 32 people have been killed in a fire that tore through a drug rehabilitation centre in northern Iran, authorities have said.

The blaze erupted yesterday in Langarud, a city in the Caspian Sea province of Gilan north of Tehran.

Esmail Sadeghi, a provincial chief justice, told local media that 16 others were taken to hospital.

Iran imposes a death penalty on repeat drug smugglers and dealers but runs a series of rehab programmes for addicts.

An initial investigation showed that a heater was the cause of the fire, which then spread to the rest of the centre, the province’s deputy governor was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

The centre accommodated up to 40 people.

However, the province’s deputy governor Mohammad Jalai said that it was overcrowded, which contributed “to the high number of casualties”.

Isna, a semi-official Iranian news agency, shared footage of the fire which lit up the sky and sent huge plumes of smoke into the air.

Credit: BBC