At least 11 killed in Beirut building collapse

AFP , Monday 16 Jan 2012

The collapsed building is known to house Lebanese, Sudanese and Egyptian families

Lebanese Red Cross personnel transport a wounded man after removing him from under a collapsed building in Fassouh area in Beirut January 15, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

At least 11 people were killed and 12 were injured when a run-down six-storey apartment block collapsed without warning in the Lebanese capital, a Red Cross official told AFP on Monday.

"Up until now, 11 bodies and 12 injured Lebanese nationals and foreigners have been recovered from the rubble," said Georges Kettaneh, adding that rescue operations mounted during the night were continuing Monday morning.

The apartment block, in Beirut's eastern Ashrafiyeh district, came crashing down suddenly on Sunday evening. It was known to house Lebanese, Sudanese and Egyptian families.

Neighbours said dozens of people had lived in the building.

Among the dead was a 15-year-old girl while her grandmother as well as a 73-year-old Lebanese man, at least two Sudanese, an Egyptian and a Filipina were among the injured.

Local television said seven of the dead were foreign labourers, including two from Jordan.

"It was like an earthquake" when the block collapsed, one witness told the local MTV channel.

One resident who escaped with her mother said the building was extremely run-down and the owner had warned residents not to remain there shortly before it disintegrated.

She told local television that she and her mother managed to escape as the building came tumbling down but her father and three brothers remained trapped.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman rushed to the site Sunday evening as did Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and other officials.

Charbel told reporters the building's owner was being questioned by authorities.

He added it was essential to carry out a survey of similar buildings throughout the country, many of which were built illegally or had several storeys added without proper permits.

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