Middle East

Egypt: Cairo flats collapse kills 17 people

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Media captionOrla Guerin: "Residents say the building came down in a matter of seconds"

A block of flats has collapsed in Egypt's capital, Cairo, killing at least 17 people, officials say.

Seven people were also injured when the eight-storey building in the western suburb of Matariya collapsed overnight.

Emergency services chief Gen Mamdouh Abdul Qader said rescue workers were searching through the rubble for 15 people who were believed to be trapped.

The residents of four nearby buildings have been evacuated as a precaution.

In January 2013, the collapse of an eight-storey block of flats in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria left 28 people dead.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Residents and relatives searched the rubble with their bare hands to try to find survivors
Image copyright AP
Image caption Investigators are probing the cause of the building collapse, which happened overnight

At the scene: Orla Geurin, BBC News, Cairo

Locals say the block of flats collapsed in seconds, killing residents as they slept. At the scene we saw rescue workers searching beneath mounds of rubble and concrete, some digging with their bare hands.

Neighbours told us the building was originally three storeys high and had wooden supports, rather than concrete ones.

Several more floors were added - two of them illegally, according to officials. Several years ago the authorities told the residents to go, but that order was ignored.

Campaigners say unauthorised construction and lack of oversight mean many residential buildings in Egypt are death traps.

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