Update: Death toll in Alexandria building collapse rises to 28

The number of casualties in a building collapse in Mamora, eastern Alexandria, rose to 28 dead and 12 injured Wednesday. Military and emergency responders continue to search for survivors and bodies of victims.

Nasser al-Abd, director of the Alexandria Investigation Bureau, said the building was built without a license five years ago on 200 square meters of land, and that it has eight floors with three apartments in each. 

“It showed cracks about two years ago due to a sewage leakage,” he said. “We arrested the owner on Wednesday.”

Prosecutors are investing the incident and taking testimonies from people injured.

Earlier Wednesday, Alexandria Governor Mohamed Abbas told the state-run Al-Ahram web portal that the area in Mamora where the collapse happened did not have a sanitary drainage network, and that the land in the area was arable, but improperly used for buildings.

He said only four buildings in the area have construction permits, while all the other buildings were built illegally.

He also said the governorate would start a campaign to demolish all illegal buildings to ensure that such a tragedy is not repeated. No information was available on what provisions would be made for those residing in illegal buildings.

Most of the bodies have been damaged beyond recognition, making identifying the victims difficult.

Earlier reports had said that one of the building’s owners had been arrested and would be charged with homicide, deliberately causing injury and building without a license.

Abd told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Abdel Moneim Sediq and Shawky Saeed owned the building.

Witnesses at the site similarly speculated that the building collapse may have been due to a faulty sewer system nearby, which leaked water into the ground around the building’s foundation.

Several building collapses have taken place in Alexandria Governorate over the past few years.

Failure by local authorities to execute demolition orders on time and the unauthorized construction of additional floors are the usual reasons for catastrophic building collapses, which Egypt has witnessed an increasing number of in recent years.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm 

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