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Building Collapses 10 Days After Quake, Killing 5

October 21, 1992

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ A building evacuated because of damage from last week’s deadly earthquake fell on a house next door early today, killing five people, police said. A man was pulled alive from the debris nine hours later.

The deaths raised to 557 the toll from the Oct. 12 earthquake, most killed by collapsing buildings during the temblor and its aftershocks. Some schoolchildren were trampled to death in the panic during the quake.

The government’s Middle East News Agency said four of the five victims of today’s building collapse in the low-income neighborhood of Imbaba were children ages 7 to 13. The agency said five people were injured.

Imbaba has been a trouble spot where radical Muslim fundamentalists have engaged in sectarian conflict and clashes with police during the past year.

There were no reports of unrest in Imbaba associated with the earthquake. But religious fundamentalists have made political points in its aftermath by providing shelter to people who lost their homes and cannot get housing from the government.

The two buildings apparently were wrecked just after midnight during an aftershock that measured 3 on the Richter scale. The initial quake registered 5.9.

Brig. Fikri Amer of Imbaba police station said the first to fall was a new eight-story building where residents had been moved out because of cracks caused by the earthquake on Oct. 12. The falling debris crushed a neighboring house, where the dead and injured were sleeping.

Amer said nearby houses were ordered evacuated.

Since the original quake, there have been virtually daily reports of new, dangerous cracks appearing in buildings, especially old ones weakened by numerous aftershocks. Scientists say those tremors should taper off in the next three weeks.

On Tuesday, Cairo’s governor, Omar Abdel-Akher, ordered a one-year moratorium on building permits, apparently to give time to repair existing structures and to tighten supervision of construction in progress.

Safwat el-Sherif, the federal information minister, told the Middle East New Agency that in Cairo alone, 66 buildings had collapsed by Tuesday, 1,244 were uninhabitable and 2,563 sustained lesser damage.

Most of the thousands of structures the earthquake brought down nationwide were old and poorly maintained, made of stone or of mud brick.

Among the wrecked buildings was a modern, 14-story apartment building that crumbled during the earthquake in the high-rent district of Heliopolis, killing 72 people. Authorities said it was made of cheap material, had four illegal floors at the top and had been the subject of many citations for safety violations that never were enforced.

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