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Survivors Pulled From Rubble of High-Rise Apartment Building With AM-Egypt-Earthquake, Bjt

October 13, 1992

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Mattresses. A bicycle. Broken furniture. It took rescuers three hours of digging Monday evening before they found what they were looking for in the rubble of a 14-story building: survivors.

Samia Ragab Khalil, looked up at rescuers from a hole in what had been an apartment, and held her lifeless son.

The boy’s remains had been pulled from her and wrapped in a white sheet long before Mrs. Khalil, hysterical and white with cement dust, was worked clear and hoisted away on a stretcher.

Another mother, Ilham el-Sayed and 2-year-old Ihab, her son, were found in good condition but too shocked to talk. Their lives was apparently saved because their 13th-floor room was cushioned by the rubble beneath them.

About 15 survivors eventually were pulled from the collapsed building in the affluent northern suburb of Heliopolis, rescuers said.

It was one of at least 116 buildings partly or wholly destroyed by an earthquake that claimed hundreds of lives across Egypt on Monday afternoon. The temblor measured 5.9 on the Richter scale.

Spotlights lit the way for rescue workers in what seemed to be a vain search for more life. Men and women, some in tears, sat silently on a sidewalk in the dust, awaiting news of friends and family members feared trapped in the rubble.

Riot police used batons to keep throngs away from the scene of the accident and a tight cordon at the Heliopolis Hospital entrance. By early evening, a few people hesitantly walked in to check outpatient lists.

The hospital admitted 120 earthquake casualties, mostly pupils trampled as they rushed out of their schools in a panic.

″The kids threw me down the stairs,″ said Amira Ahmed, 13.

″I didn’t feel the quake. ... All I felt was that suddenly everyone was screaming and rushing downstairs like mad.″

Her her eyes were red and swollen, her neck badly bruised.

At least five schools crumbled in whole or part around Heliopolis, a generally affluent northern suburb of Cairo. Most of the buildings were in poor districts, old and built of flimsy material.

The collapsed high-rise was an expensive building, little more than 10 years old, in an upper-class district.

Nearby residents said the construction was jinxed from the start. It was kept unused for eight years as its owners contested, and won, a court case charging that the structure had too many floors and was unsafe.

″I heard screams, people running out of everywhere, then an explosion,″ said Mohammed Abdel-Sattar, 20, a neighbor. ″I saw the building fall, in one piece, all of a sudden.″

The French government announced Monday night it is sending at Egypt’s request a team of search-and-rescue specialists to help the quest for survivors.

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