A huge fire broke out in the early hours of Monday at a popular market of street vendors in downtown Cairo, Egypt state TV reported.
The fire, which started at a six-storey hotel in the Attaba area and extended to adjacent buildings including a warehouse, burnt for over eight hours into daylight morning hours.
TV footage showed a sheet of flames leaping from windows of two buildings and dense plumes of smoke shooting into the sky. Some seven hours later, clouds of white smoke continued to be seen as fire fighters sprayed water inside and sirens blared nearby.
No deaths were reported. However, a total of 77 were injured in the fire, many of whom suffered asphyxiation, health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed told state news agency MENA.
Of the injured, 36 were transported to nearby hospitals, while 41 were given medical care at the site.
Following the extinguishing of the fire, Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail visited the site of the incident to check on the efforts of the civil protection forces.
The Andalus Hotel, located in the famous commercial street of Al-Rewaiei, was rapidly evacuated and 32 fire fighting and hydraulic ladder vehicles were sent to the scene to extinguish the fire, state news agency MENA said.
The blaze has engulfed a number of shops as well as vendor's storehouses and stalls in the street.
Attaba is a crowded neighbourhood in downtown Cairo where the streets are dotted with small low-price shops and vendors selling a wide variety of goods.
An eyewitness said in TV comments that fire fighting teams and police were late to arrive to put out the blaze.
The cause of the blast was not immediately clear and an investigation is currently underway, an official said.
Cairo Security Chief Khaled Abel-Al and acting-Governor Ahmed Taymour went to the area in downtown to follow up on efforts to contain the fire.
It is the second fire to break out in the area in a week after a short circuit last Monday caused a blaze some 100m from the new fire.
Three were injured in last week's blaze.