A residential building that stood eight stories high collapsed Monday night in Cairo. The collapsing building killed at least 16 and possibly more, while injuring another 7, said Egyptian security forces. Authorities believe the number killed and injured will rise.
Emergency personnel, neighbors and soldiers spent the entire morning rifling through a 15-foot pile of rubble searching for survivors in a northeast district of the Egyptian capital that is densely populated.
Bodies wrapped up in black were taken away on stretchers on ambulances as debris was lifted by bulldozers.
A local official from the city, Ahmed Fawzi told state run television that only four people escaped from the building. He said the collapse was likely caused from an illegal extension that had been built on the top of the building.
Incidents such as this are not that uncommon in the country where apartment buildings that are quite old are neglected routinely and many new ones are constructed without getting the required permits as well as not adhering to the safety standards that might raise the construction cost.
Another official told a news agency of the state that four buildings nearby, at least of which one was damaged during this collapse, were evacuated out of precaution.
Rows of red brick as well as concrete buildings, already a problem under the rule of Hosni Mubarak the former president, have ballooned during the almost four years since the autocrat was ousted in a popular 2011 uprising.
The population of Egypt is 86 million, the largest country in the Arab World, and is squeezed into a small amount of land that is not the desert, mainly in the narrow strips that form the banks of the Nile and the river’s delta.
Egypt has started destroying buildings that are illegally built along the Nile to protect areas that are required to help in growing food.
However, Mustafa Madbouly the Minister of Housing said last month that the government would offer inexpensive loans to help residents finish apartments in buildings that are unfinished that have been built across the country.