During and after the Plasco Tragedy, social media platforms played an important role in spreading the news and helping the victims, firefighters and the police force in order to minimize the damage. Even one of Iran’s crowdfunding platforms 2nate is running a campaign for the victims.

A few days ago on January 19, Plasco building, a major commercial building in Tehran collapsed following a massive fire. The incident was devastating and its video footage went viral instantly on social media platforms, especially on Instagram and Telegram. Here’s an overview of how technology and social media have helped throughout the tragedy to minimize the damage.

Impact of Plasco Tragedy in Social Media and Startups

Iran is one of the safest countries in the world, especially its capital Tehran. We don’t usually see that many natural disasters or fire to be prepared for it. Actually, we don’t know how to react in these situations. And that’s what happened when the Plasco building collapsed in the fire. People didn’t know what to do, many of them rushed to the location of the incident to help. Many went to see what’s happening in the neighborhood without knowing that they are causing trouble for the police and firefighters to do their job. But how can you make people understand that they are doing a wrong thing in such times? Maybe if it was 20 years ago, National TV would have been the best solution (though not much effective), but nowadays, social media is the best solution. During the incident, people ran a few campaigns to help out with the situation which we are going to shed a light on.

  • Making way for the firefighters and police:
    • As we mentioned some people were rushing to the scene to see what’s happening and what they could do to help, but they were blocking the way for police and firefighters. Instantly a campaign was started on social media to disperse the crowd.
  • Sympathy with the firefighters:
    • Many Iranians changed their profile picture to make awareness about the incident and to show their support and love for the firefighters and their families who put their lives on the line to stop the fire. People were even encouraging each other to show up at the fire stations and light a candle and give away flowers to the firefighters.
  • Sympathy with the business owners who lost their stores in the fire:
    • Nearly 600 clothing stores and workshops were located in the Plasco building and many people lost their assets in the fire without having an insurance. A considerable amount of clothing in Tehran was made in this building, so people started a campaign to encourage others to buy Iranian clothing to help these businesses to thrive again.
  • Stopping the Chaharshanbe Suri festival:
    • Chaharshanbe Suri also called the Festival of Fire, is an Iranian festival celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday before Nowruz (the Iranian New Year). The origin of the festival dates back to at least 1700 BC, during the early Zoroastrian era, so this festival is really old. The celebration usually starts in the evening, with people making bonfires and jumping over them and playing with fireworks. What people started in social media was that they encouraged each other to not hold the Chaharshanbe Suri this year to respect the firefighters who get into so much trouble each year for this festival.

We had other grassroot campaigns by the people as well. In one of these campaigns, people asked the respective officials and the organizations to be held responsible for the tragedy.

But this is not the end. The first crowdfunding platform in Iran, 2nate started a campaign to gather money for the survivors and the businesses that lost their stores in the fire. Since many of them didn’t have any insurance, they won’t receive any compensation. This is one of those situations that a crowdfunding platform can play an important role to help the people by the people.

Our hearts are heavy with sympathy and we hope not to see such tragedies ever again.

*Image credit: Donyayebank.ir

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