Building collapse kills 18

CAIRO (AP) — The death toll from the collapse of a nine-storey apartment building in Cairo has climbed to 18, Egyptian state media reported.

The building collapsed early Saturday. State newspaper Al-Ahram said that search and rescue workers recovered the bodies over the course of the day.

Excavators could be seen digging through the debris in the el-Salam neighbourhood. Police cordoned off the area, keeping back the curious and people apparently looking for relatives in the building.

“They took four people out in front of me, who looked like they were almost gone,” said resident of the neighbourhood Mohamamed Mostafa. At least 24 others were injured and taken to hospitals, according to a statement by administrative Head of Cairo Governorate

Khalid Abdel-Al. The death toll provided by his office stayed at nine as of Saturday evening.

It was not immediately clear what caused the building’s collapse. An engineering committee was formed to examine the structural integrity of neighbouring buildings,Abdel-Al said.

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

With real estate at a premium in big cities like Cairo and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, developers seeking bigger profits frequently violate building permits.

Extra floors often are added without proper permits.

Emergency workers sift through the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in the el-Salam neighbourhood in Cairo, Egypt. PHOTO: AP