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Dozen killed in apartment block collapse

Latest update : 2008-10-08

At least 12 people died when a crumbling apartment building collapsed in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria as families slept in their homes.

At least 12 people were killed in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria before dawn on Wednesday when a four-storey apartment block collapsed as families slept, security and hospital officials said.
   
Eleven bodies were pulled from the rubble of the building where about 35 people lived, and one man succumbed to his injuries in hospital, the officials said. At least six people were injured in the collapse.
   
The recovered bodies included a woman locked in an embrace with her baby, the official MENA news agency reported, adding that the search was going on for more bodies.
   
The building collapsed at around 1:00 am (2300 GMT Tuesday) when most residents were sleeping, the official said, adding there might be more people still under the rubble.
   
Rescue workers and neighbourhood residents pulled out an injured 11-year-old girl on Wednesday morning, but they have not since found anyone alive under the rubble, a security official said.
   
Alexandria Governor Adel Labib told state television that rescue operations would end on Wednesday.
   
Two neighbouring apartment blocks, one whose roof partially collapsed, were evacuated after the accident, which crushed cars that had been parked in front of the collapsed building, the official said.
   
Saleh Subhi, an MP from the opposition Muslim Brotherhood who was at the scene, blamed municipal authorities for the accident.
   
"The building was known to need renovation work," he told AFP, adding that the block's owner had recently added two storeys to the building.
   
"The building was already ready to collapse," he said. "It was not in keeping with housing regulations. This is the third building to collapse in the district. The municipality cannot be exonerated."
   
Municipal authorities were not immediately available to comment.
   
Such incidents are relatively frequent in Egypt where building regulations are often flouted and additional floors are added without permission.
   
Last December, 35 people were killed when a 12-storey building collapsed, also in Alexandria.
   
In 2005, the collapse of a six-storey building there killed 19 people. Three extra storeys had been added illegally.
   
Tougher legislation against construction companies which ignore the law was introduced in 1996 after a building in a Cairo residential area caved in, killing 64 people.
   
Wednesday's building collapse came a month after a massive rockfall buried dozens of homes in a Cairo shantytown, killing more than 100 residents.
   
Most of the brick-built dwellings in the district had two floors and were put up without permission.
   
Residents blamed the rockslide on work that had been going on for several weeks on the Moqattam hill overlooking the shantytown, and said the authorities had been warned of the dangers of just such a disaster.
  

Date created : 2008-10-08

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