At least 19 people are confirmed dead in the collapse of an apartment building in Cairo. Following the collapse of the apartment complex in the eastern Matariya district of Egypt’s capital city, neighbors and rescuers rushed to the scene to dig through the rubble in order to find survivors. Those interviewed at the scene report that the seven-story building had several stories added without the proper construction permits, highlighting an ongoing problem throughout Egypt of buildings being enlarged for profits by unscrupulous developers without the proper safety inspections being carried out.
Many of those trapped inside the building were already asleep when the structure began to collapse sometime after midnight. Bulldozers were immediately brought into the neighborhood in order to help move pieces of steel and cement from the scene as rescuers searched for residents in the hope they had survived the collapse. According to a representative from Cairo’s Civil Defense Department, 19 bodies have already been removed from the crumpled building. At least 8 people were able to be pulled alive out of the apartment. Rescue teams report that there have been frantic calls coming in on mobile cell phones from people who say that they continue to be trapped in the rubble.
A relative of one of the residents recalled that his mother-in-law as recently as last Sunday complained that the building looked very unsafe because there were numerous cracks covering the walls and steel rods had begun to dislodge from the concrete. The man who owned the apartment building passed away earlier this year, and there were reports that his son, who was a resident of the complex, was able to jump off of his apartment balcony to safety. There are reports that the building’s owner disregarded a court ruling not to illegally add more floors.