The Egyptian Public Prosecution on Tuesday ordered the arrest of the owner of a building in Cairo’s busy Gesr El-Suez district that collapsed earlier this week, causing the death of at least 24 people.
The prosecution said in a statement it also ordered the arrest of a number of individuals that were responsible for construction violations in the building. This includes an owner of an unlicensed garment factory that was located in the building.
The prosecution has formed a committee from the Housing and Building National Research Centre to examine the building’s rubble and disclose the causes of the collapse.
The committee will examine probable links between the collapse and the construction violations in the building, as well as demolition work that had been taking place on the ground floor shortly before the incident.
The committee is also tasked with examining nearby buildings to evaluate the extent to which they were affected by the collapse and take the necessary measures to restore and secure them.
According to the statement, 24 people have died in the collapse, 25 others were injured, and one was still missing as of Sunday.
Officials at El-Salam’s municipality, which the building followed, told the prosecution that the heirs of the building owner had committed construction violations in the building from 2013 to 2017.
These violations include exploiting the basement, the ground floor, and the first floor in commercial activities by constructing a garment factory.
The two officials said formal decisions were issued earlier to stop and remove the violations but were not implemented.
One of the heirs of the building's owner submitted last September a request to reconcile with authorities on the violations in the building, filing reports affirming the safety of the building, the prosecution’s statement read.
Authorities have not responded to the reconciliation request to date, the statement added.
In March, an official decision was issued to close the factory for operating without a license.
The prosecution delegated doctors from the Department of Forensic Medicine to examine the bodies of the unidentified victims to take DNA samples and disclose their identities.