Rescuers End Search of Bodies in Egyptian Factory after Finding 21 Dead
Rescue workers Friday evening ended their search for bodies in the wreckage of a clothing factory that caved in after a fire, with the confirmed death toll standing at 21, police said.
Twelve of those who died were members of Alexandria's fire and disaster brigade, including the outfit's director, while an unknown number were feared dead, including a group of children, according to police and witnesses.
Six of the 21 were factory workers, while the remaining three have yet to be identified, the police said.
Bulldozers moved in to begin removing the rubble when rescue workers ended their search after efforts failed to locate more people among the twisted remains of the six-storey building.
Five bodies were recovered on Friday, including four fire department sergeants buried alive Wednesday while inspecting fire damage, the police said.
The fifth victim found Friday was a 17-year-old factory worker identified by police as Kamal Mohammed. It was not clear if he was one of a group of young children reported looting clothes from the building when it collapsed.
The search was called off shortly after recovering the body of the last fire and disaster worker known to have been crushed in the collapse.
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 said.
The Mediterranean city's fire and disaster chief, General Mohammed Ragai, his deputy and 10 other disaster agency workers were among the dead.
They were inspecting the inside of the building, in the Sidi Gaber neighborhood of Egypt's second city, when it caved in after the fire had been extinguished Wednesday evening, seven hours after it broke out.
Ragai and his deputy were buried Friday in accordance with Muslim tradition, after midday prayers in the presence of the governor of Alexandria, Mohammed Abdel Salam al-Mahgub.
The search lasted throughout Wednesday and Thursday nights and all day Friday among the piles of broken concrete beams and twisted steel reinforcement rods.
Whether there actually were any children in the factory when it collapsed is still unclear - ALEXANDRIA (AFP)
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