Hassan Rouhani's Car Pelted with Eggs at Mine Explosion Site

Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) visits the Azadshahr coal mine in the city of Golestan, northern Iran, 7 May. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was pelted with eggs during a campaign stop to a remote mine near Iran’s border with Turkmenistan after an explosion days earlier killed dozens of miners.

In a rare act of civil disobedience against the Iranian regime, workers and the families of those killed in the disaster at the Zemestanyurt mine attacked his presidential car Sunday, forcing him to flee the scene with his security detail.

The Associated Press reported that the Iranian president—who is favourite to win the country’s upcoming elections—was left unharmed. As of Tuesday, 43 people were confirmed dead at the site, which has served to highlight the dangerous conditions the country’s mineworkers face.

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The incident at the site of worst industrial accident in Iran in decades only came to light when videos of the attack were posted online by the semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agency.  In one piece of footage acquired by Tasnim a woman can be seen rushing into the path of the vehicle shouting: “Please God, help me!”

At the same time Rouhani’s bodyguards could be seen hanging off the sides of the car as uniformed policemen unsuccessfully attempted to stop the crowds from swarming  the cars and throwing stones, the AP reported.

Before the attack Rouhani, who hopes to win a second four year term in the May 19 election, miners that his government would pursue those responsible for the industrial accident.  “Those who are guilty in this incident should be prosecuted by a court,” he said.

Iranian State television—which has not reported the attack on Rouhani’s car—said Tuesday the number of fatalities from mine explosion had increased from 35 to 43.

The May 3 blast inside a mine that employs roughly 500 workers was caused when one section became filled with methane gas. The dozens more who made the first rescue attempts had to be treated after they inhaled the gas inside in the mine.

Insufficient safety standards and poor emergency services in mining communities have been blamed for a string of mining accidents in Iran. In 2013, 11 workers were killed in two separate mining disasters.