Latest building collapse highlights problem in Alexandria

A total of 28 people were killed when a block of flats collapsed in Alexandria, Egypt, on 16 January. Others were injured as the eight-story building collapsed, reports said. The cause is not yet known.

The collapse happened in the early hours when most tenants were thought to be at home, reports said.

Alexandria’s security chief, police Maj Gen Abdel-Mawgood Lutfi, said the 24-flat block was built five years ago, according to the BBC.

Rescue workers used mechanical diggers to search through the rubble for survivors, while neighbouring buildings were evacuated as a precaution.

Alexandria is notorious for building collapses. The BBC reported engineers as saying that every year around 20 buildings collapse in the city. Also in January, a building in Cairo collapsed, killing three people.

Nasser Darwish, a professor at the Structural Engineering Department of Alexandria University, said buildings were being built illegally, without permits.

"These blocks are occupied by families with low incomes and families who were forced to buy homes in cheaper buildings which are illegal," he told the BBC.

He said that in Alexandria there were hundreds of buildings with major structural flaws, about 170 of which are in danger of imminent collapse and need to be evacuated immediately.

"Nobody wants to deal with the social problem of where you put the residents that need to be moved," said Prof Darwish. "Nobody wants to deal with the security problem of having to confront the buildings’ owners. So they are just left to collapse."

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