Rockslide death toll tops 50

The death toll from Saturday's massive rockslide in a Cairo shantytown has risen to 51 people. Dozens of homes were ruined and hundreds were buried in the debris. Media reports suggest that 500 people could be missing.


CAIRO - The death toll from a rockfall  that sent boulders crashing down on dozens of houses in a
crowded Cairo shanty town rose to 51 on Monday, with a number of
people still missing, Egyptian security sources said.

Tumbling rocks crushed many buildings on Saturday in the
Manshiyet Nasser neighbourhood in eastern Cairo, its
close-packed houses and narrow alleys huddled at the foot of
steep cliffs beside a highway.

Security sources said the death toll climbed to 51 after
recovery workers found at least 11 new bodies on Monday when
they reached four homes that were previously inaccessible.

State news agency MENA, quoting the health ministry, put the
confirmed toll lower, at 39. It said 57 people had been injured.

"There are still a number of houses under the rubble, and
most likely there will be a number of victims found in these
homes," a security official said, speaking on customary
condition of anonymity.

Roughly 10 to 15 people were still missing and believed
buried, security sources said. Workers were expected to continue
clearing rubble after they cut through a railway embankment on
Sunday to bring in heavy earth-moving equipment.

Some of the rocks weigh more than 200 tonnes and it could
take days to break them up and lift them out of the way.

The cliff, part of the Muqattam Hills that flank the old
city of Cairo on the eastern side, fell on one of the poor
working-class areas which have sprung up around Cairo as the
city grew in the last few decades.

Rockfalls have been frequent in the area and the authorities
had moved some people to new houses elsewhere.

Egyptian media said some people had refused to move on the
grounds the alternative houses were too far away. But some
residents said they did not believe the new houses existed or
thought that one needed to pay a bribe to obtain one.

The disaster was the latest in a series of events that have
damaged the reputation of an Egyptian government in office with
few changes since 2004.

The fire brigade reacted slowly last month when a blaze
broke out in the offices of the upper house of parliament. It
burned for more than 12 hours and gutted the historic building.

A prominent member of the ruling party and one of Egypt's
wealthiest businessman, Hesham Talaat Mustafa, was charged last
month as an accessory to the killing of Lebanese singer Suzanne
Tamim in Dubai in July.

In July, a parliamentarian from the ruling party was
acquitted of manslaughter over the deaths of more than 1,000
ferry passengers who drowned in the Red Sea in 2006. The verdict
has been widely criticised.
(Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Catherine Evans)



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