Twelve people are known to have died and at least a dozen more were feared dead after a clothing factory caught fire and collapsed Wednesday in Alexandria, police and witnesses said Thursday.
Egypt's government-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported that 31 people had died in the double tragedy, but rescue workers at the scene told AFP that only 12 bodies had so far been removed.
The blaze swept through the six-storey building in the city's Sidi Gaber neighborhood Wednesday morning leaving one factory worker dead and twenty-six people injured, including three fire fighters, police said.
The fire brigade managed to put out the flames during the afternoon, but the building later collapsed on police and firemen, killing Alexandria's civil defense director General Mohamed Ragai and raising the death toll further.
One policeman was pulled from the rubble alive as the rescue attempt continued into the night, but by morning eight civilians and four police and fire fighters had been confirmed dead, rescue workers at the scene said.
Police had cordoned off the area Thursday morning, keeping anxious relatives away from the scene of devastation, as four caterpillar trucks worked to remove the debris.
The witnesses added that a number of children had entered the building to salvage pieces of cloth and factory equipment before it collapsed and said the number trapped inside could be much higher than a dozen.
Egypt's government-run Al-Akhbar newspaper reported that the fire was caused by an electrical fault, quoting initial investigations.
The paper added that the factory had suffered a previous fire around the beginning of this year which destabilized the building and that proper renovation work had not been carried out – CAIRO (AFP)
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