Search for missing people continues after Downtown Cairo building collapse: Prosecution

Ahram Online , Sunday 16 Aug 2020

The collapse left four people injured, according to statements by Cairo governorate

Downtown building collapse
Men sit by the rubble at the scene of a building collapse along QasrEl-Nil street in the Egyptian capital Cairo's downtown district (Photo: AFP)

Egypt's Public Prosecution said on Sunday that it has ordered continued efforts to remove rubble from a collapsed building in Cairo's Downtown Qasr Al-Nile Street in search of missing people.

The prosecution also ordered the undertaking of necessary procedures to protect neighbouring buildings, after members of the prosecution visited the site to evaluate the extent of the damage.

The four-storey building, built on an area of 1,500 metres, collapsed on Saturday, injuring at least four people, and 14 people have been rescued from the rubble.

The building is registered as a structure with distinct architectural design and it comprised two residential units and several administrative units, including a money exchange company on the ground floor, a factory, a clothing store and a shuttered furniture store.

Built in 1941, the building suffered partial damage on Saturday when three upper floors collapsed, the statement by the prosecution said.

Several orders had previously been issued to restore the building, the last of which was in 1993, but the restoration work never took place, according to the statement.

The statement added that several violations had been committed by the building’s occupants between 1993 and 2014, including internal modifications to units and to the building’s entrance without permits. The prosecution added that no order to demolish the building has been issued.

Members of the prosecution also visited Ahmed Maher Teaching Hospital in Cairo and questioned three people injured in the incident. They confirmed that the old building had cracks and that it collapsed after shaking violently on Saturday, the statement added.

One of the three witnesses accused the building’s owner of failing to carry out the necessary maintenance for the building over the past 25 years and allowing tenants to carry out modification without permits, the last of which was a year ago, the prosecution said.

The doorman of the building, who had been working there for the past four years, told the prosecution that the building had not seen any construction work, renovation or restoration during this period, according to the statement.

The prosecution ordered a committee from the housing ministry to determine why renovation orders were not implemented as well as who was responsible for conducting modifications without a license and for the building’s collapse.

The prosecution has also ordered a police investigation into the incident, according to the statement, which added that the probe is ongoing.

Earlier on Sunday, Cairo governorate said it has continued to remove the debris for the second day, and that it has not found any victims so far.

Cairo Governor Khaled Abdel-Aal said on Saturday during an inspection of the site that an order to restore the building had been ignored twice, and that a police report was later filed as a result.

Abdel-Aal ordered an engineering committee be formed to inspect the condition of neighbouring buildings to determine whether they were affected. He also ordered that two fully equipped housing units in Mokattam's Asmarat complex be provided as accommodation for the two families affected by the collapse.

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