The governor of Alexandria said late Thursday the demolition of a 13-storey apartment buidling that has tilted into another one across the street is being done manually and gradually from top to bottom in a process that is estimated to take three days.
In a press conference, Governor Mohamed Sultan said that initial reports showed the sharp forward tilt that occured earlier in the day was caused by excessive height, which had weakened the building's foundation. Sultan added that water beneath the building could have also been a contributing factor.
The demolition work started Thursday afternoon and continued for the second day into Friday.
Security forces blocked off the area on Thursday and halted operations of the overground tram to avoid any ground disturbance that could cause the building to collapse.
The army has been called in to take part in the demolishion work.
Demolition on Azarita building
Meanwhile, the owner of the afflicted building was arrested on Friday and is being questioned by prosecutors over charges of illegal building and endangering citizens' lives, Ahram Arabic news website said.
The building, in Azarita district in the city of Alexandria, was initially granted a four-storey license, but an additional nine floors were illegally added without permission, the governor said.
Sultan explained that municipal authorities was not able to demolish the leaning building earlier becasue it was inhabited by residents.
The incident has forced police to evacuate the building and nearby structures.
Sultan said the opposite building on which the tilting building has rested can endure the weight.
Neighbours said the 12-year-old building began slowly tilting over a year ago. Many said in TV interviews on Thursday that the incident was prompted by the fall of an adjacent dilapidated three-storey building.
Building collapses are commonplace in Egypt and are usually attributed to violations of building specifications, illegal extensions and lax oversight.
Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Wali said Thursday that the ministry would provide 21 apartments for affected families.
It will also provide a daily stipend of EGP100 as well as daily meals to each person affected over the next three days until the demolition is completed and the families are moved to other housing.
Fourty people have already been provided emergency housing units and there were places for another sixty, according to the ministry.