17 die as illegal flats collapse
Published 16/01/2013 | 14:30
An eight-storey apartment building has collapsed, killing 17 people in Egypt, the second tragic accident in the country as many days.
Eight other people were injured and rescue teams continued to search for survivors under the rubble in Alexandria.
The collapse came a day after 19 police conscripts were killed when the last car of a train they were riding jumped the tracks and smashed into another train just outside Cairo.
It was not known what caused the building to collapse in a poor district of Alexandria, but violations of building specifications have been blamed for similar accidents in the past. The governor of Alexandria, Mohammed Abbas Atta, said it was constructed without a permit.
Abul Ezz el-Hariri, an opposition politician, warned that hundreds of buildings in the city face the same fate, but that lax law enforcement following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak means that no action is being taken against building violations.
Residents complain that landowners in farmlands on the city's outskirts have taken advantage of the chaos and near lawlessness that followed the former president's removal and illegally sold their land to developers who built shoddy apartment blocks. Similar violations have taken place across much of the country during the same period.
The building collapsed early in the day when most tenants were home.
The collapse is likely to fuel a popular outcry against the administration of president Mohammed Morsi, whose critics say he has failed to carry out reforms and overhaul the nation's deteriorating public services.
Two months ago 50 children died when a train rammed into their school bus in southern Egypt. That tragedy also sparked a storm of criticism of Mr Morsi, who took office in June.
The train wreck led to protests at stations in Cairo, Alexandria and a third city in the Nile Delta. The demonstrators were protesting what they said was official negligence in maintaining and upgrading the country's ageing rail network.