Egypt building collapse kills 19, injures 8

by Staff, |
People and rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a collapsed eight-storey building in the Cairo suburb of Matariya, early November 25, 2014. | Reuters/Al Youm Al Saabi Newspaper

CAIRO (Christian Examiner) -- A building collapse in Egypt caused the death of at least 19 people, injured eight and trapped several others in the Cairo suburb of Matariya Tuesday, according to reports. While many have questioned why the building collapsed, some allege that the fault lay with illegal construction that added several stories to the building.

The disaster occurred at about 1:30 a.m. while many of the seven-story building's residents were sleeping. Nineteen bodies were pulled from the debris, which included cement, sharp steel rods and other building materials, the state news agency MENA reported. Rescue teams continued to dig through the rubble late into the night while trapped and frightened residents used their cell phones to call for help.

"A man with his daughter was calling me saying they are trapped in darkness," Ali Abdel-Fattah Ali, a government employee and mechanic, told the Associated Press. "I tried to call back but there was no answer. I don't know what happened. His phone is still ringing."

The son of the late owner of the building had to jump off the roof to avoid the collapse. The owner of the building died six months ago, so no one so far has been publicly held responsible for the destruction and loss of life.

However, government officials speaking off the record on the condition of anonymity said the fault was due to the three extra floors built onto the old existing structure. The original owner of the building was told by Egypt's courts that he could not add floors, but he did so anyway, according to these unnamed sources.