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Egypt Building Collapse Kills 15

July 20, 2000

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AP) _ A six-story building collapsed after a devastating blaze while firefighters and workers were inside, killing 15 people including the commander of the city’s fire brigade, officials said Thursday.

At least 38 factory workers and firefighters were injured in the collapse or from smoke inhalation, said officials at Muwasa Hospital in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. The fire broke out Wednesday, and the collapse occurred hours later.

Workers said they feared many of their colleagues were still trapped in the building, which housed a clothing factory. The workers had returned to the building to salvage material.

Emergency workers on Thursday used bulldozers to clear a pile of concrete and steel while anxious relatives looked on. The Interior Ministry said emergency workers would continue to search the rubble for bodies or for possible survivors.

Ahmed Mohammed Ali, a 17-year-old worker, said he rushed to the factory after the fire to check on his younger brother, who also worked there.

The two later went into the building to help salvage material, and were inside when it collapsed.

``It was like an earthquake,″ said Ali. He said he lost consciousness and awoke in Muwasa Hospital. It was not clear what happened to Ali’s brother.

The cause of the fire in the low-income Izbat Saad suburb has not yet been determined.

The dead included the commander of Alexandria’s fire brigade, Mohammed Ragaei, and another high-ranking civil defense official, Ibrahim Abdel Qader.

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