Eighteen Dead Pulled out of Egyptian Factory Fire-Collapse
Rescue workers on Friday pulled another two dead from the wreckage of a clothing factory that caved in Alexandria Wednesday after a fire, bringing the death toll to at least 18, police said.
A round-the-clock operation was continuing in the search for more bodies among the twisted remains of the six-storey building in Egypt's second city, an Alexandria Civil Defense official said.
Eighteen bodies, including that of Alexandria's fire and disaster chief, have so far been recovered, while many others were feared dead, including a group of children, according to police and witnesses.
"The rescue operation is on 24 hours a day," said the Civil Defense official who would not speculate on how many remain under the wreckage, but denied there were any children trapped. No children have yet been found.
The bodies found Friday were those of two fire department sergeants who were buried alive while inspecting the fire damage to the factory, the police said, adding that the search for a further two sergeants was underway.
Twenty-six people including three firefighters were injured in the initial blaze which was believed to have been started by an electrical short circuit, police aid.
The Mediterranean city's fire and disaster chief, General Mohammed Ragai, his deputy and a total eight other disaster workers were among the dead.
They were inspecting the inside of the six-storey building in Alexandria's Sidi Gaber neighbourhood when it caved in after the fire had been extinguished Wednesday evening, seven hours after it broke out.
Six disaster workers, including Ragai, were due to be buried in line with Muslim tradition in Alexandria Friday, after midday prayers. The twelve other dead were buried Thursday.
The search continued throughout Thursday night among the piles of broken concrete beams and twisted steel reinforcement rods, but the state-run Egyptian press gave little coverage to the disaster.
State television's channel one failed to mention the deaths of the Alexandrians in its Thursday midday news summary, but gave pictures of victims of a fire in a Costa Rican old age home which left 17 dead.
Police confirmed that a group of children were in the building when it collapsed and that they were still looking for their bodies.
But the official from Alexandria's Civil Defence department, which deals with fires and other disasters, told AFP Friday that rescue workers were not looking for any children.
Initial estimates put the cost of the destruction at around 2.5 million dollars, they added - ALEXANDRIA (AFP)
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