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5 Die in Egypt Building Collapse

January 10, 1999

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ A six-story apartment building collapsed early Sunday, killing five people and injuring seven, police said. Rescue workers were attempting to reach at least 15 others feared trapped.

Among the dead was a 13-year-old boy, police said.

Walls of two nearby buildings were damaged in the collapse and residents of those buildings were evacuated, police said. It was not known how many people were inside the apartment building when it collapsed about 2 a.m.

Rescue crews worked with jackhammers and saws to cut through piles of debris. Dozens of riot police cordoned off the area, keeping back the curious and those who said they had relatives in the building.

One man at the site, Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, told Associated Press Television News that he was helping to try to find his brother and sister-in-law and their four children.

``From the early morning, we’ve been digging ... trying to find them,″ Abdel-Aziz said. ``But there’s no sign of them.″

Witnesses speculated the foundation of the building, in Cairo’s western Giza area, may have been undermined by construction at an adjacent site. Workers had dug about 15 feet into the ground to lay the foundation for a new building, they said.

Al-Akhbar daily reported that the construction foreman had been detained and the owner of the building under construction was being sought.

Building collapses are not uncommon in Egypt, where poor materials and shoddy construction techniques result in weak structures. Extra floors often are added without proper government permits.

In October 1996, an apartment building in the eastern neighborhood of Heliopolis collapsed, killing 64 people. Police said the owner had added extra floors to an already structurally unsound eight-story building.

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