Building collapses in Egypt; officials say at least 6 dead

SAMY MAGDY

CAIRO (AP) — An apartment building collapsed in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, killing at least six people Wednesday, Egyptian officials said.

Rescue workers were looking for any survivors trapped under rubble of the three-story building in the Moharam Bek neighborhood, an official said. The bodies of three men and three women had been recovered so far, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Police forces cordoned off the area, keeping back the curious and those who were apparently looking for relatives in the building. Workers were seen using bulldozers to clear away debris.

Alexandria's governor, Mohammed el-Sharif, said in video comments at the scene that initial reports suggested that two families of nine people were inside the building at the time of the collapse.

It was not immediately clear what caused the building to collapse. Al-Sharif said it was an old building constructed in the 1940s.

Building collapses are not uncommon in Egypt, where shoddy construction is widespread in shantytowns, poor city neighborhoods and rural areas.

With real estate at a premium in big cities like Alexandria and Cairo, developers seeking bigger profits frequently violate planning permits. Extra floors often are added without proper government permits.

The government has recently launched a crackdown on illegal building across the country, jailing violators and in many cases destroying the buildings.