According to local authorities, five people have died and at least 24 were wounded on Saturday as a building collapsed in the Egyptian capital Cairo. “The governorate’s crisis room was informed at 3:00 am [0100 GMT] of the collapse of a building consisting of a basement, a ground floor and nine [upper] floors,” the Cairo governorate said in a statement. It said that five people were confirmed dead and 24 wounded in the collapse in the Gesr Suez district near Heliopolis in the east of the city.
“Khaled Abdel Aal, the governor, immediately went to the site of the incident accompanied by civil protection forces,” the statement added.
He ordered the “establishment of an engineering committee” to inspect surrounding buildings and evaluate the impact.
Rescue workers were searching for any survivors trapped under the rubble of the building, Abdel Aal said.
Police cordoned off the area, keeping back the curious and people apparently looking for relatives in the building. Workers were seen using bulldozers to clear away debris.
“When the diggers arrived at the site they expanded the area and pushed people away and started working, searching for survivors. While I was there they removed four bodies. They could see others but they couldn’t bring them out,” Mohamed Mostafa, an eyewitness, told Associated Press.
Building collapses are not uncommon in Egypt, where shoddy construction is widespread in shantytowns, poor city neighbourhoods and rural areas.
Last month another building collapsed in the Rod el-Farag area of Cairo, killing three people.
With real estate at a premium in big cities like Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, developers seeking bigger profits frequently violate building permits. Extra floors often are added without proper government permits.
The government has recently launched a crackdown on illegal building across the country, jailing violators and in many cases destroying the buildings.
The New Arab