On Sunday, Egyptian workers rescued a 6-month-old infant from the rubble of a building that collapsed over the weekend.
According to The Associated Press:
The infant’s mother, father, and sister had already been found dead, but teams continued to search for his older brother, who was missing, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
The young boy’s condition was stable as of Sunday, said one official from the country’s civil protection agency.
The Associated Press stated on Sunday that the nine-story residential building in the city of Cairo had fallen early on Saturday, reporting, “State newspaper Al-Ahram said that search and rescue workers recovered the bodies over the course of the day.” The outlet reported that law enforcement officials sectioned off the area and kept away onlookers who were either curious about the situation or potentially looking for loved ones in the rubble.
Mohamamed Mostafa, a resident of the neighborhood, said, “They took four people out in front of me, who looked like they were almost gone.”
On Sunday, Egyptian authorities said that the death toll had climbed to 25 people.
On Monday, the AP reported, “It was not immediately clear what caused the building’s collapse. An engineering committee was formed to examine the structural integrity of neighboring buildings, Khalid Abdel-Al, the administrative head of Cairo governorate, said on Saturday. Another 26 people were also injured.”
Tragedies like the one that occurred over the weekend are not particularly scarce in the country. Cairo and Alexandria are popular markets for real-estate, and at times, the outlet reported, developers go around the laws and construct buildings with extra floors without getting the appropriate permits first.
“The government has recently launched a crackdown on illegal buildings, jailing violators and in many cases destroying the buildings,” per the AP.
Last year, Reuters reported on the government’s effort to discourage illegal construction. The government enforced a time limit for residents of illegal structures that were made without permits to apply to “regularise their property for a fee, or face demolition,” according to the outlet.
Officials say that the law introduced last year is part of a crackdown on illegal buildings that violate safety standards, hinder traffic and development, and encroach on arable land.
It’s part of a drive by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to upgrade infrastructure and housing and deal with decades of haphazard construction that accelerated after a 2011 uprising.
But for some residents the demolition threat is a fresh blow after years of economic austerity, rising prices and, most recently, the fallout from the coronavirus.
“I have been struggling to make a living as a farm hand to feed my three children since my husband died in Kuwait last year,” said Saleh, a resident of Defriya village in Kafr El-Sheikh province.
“I make around 1,500 pounds ($95.48) (a month) from work and my late father’s pension. But the government wants 15,000 pounds to regularise my house.”
The government’s efforts were met with anger and dissatisfaction from some citizens, specifically in Saryaqos, a village to the north of the main area of Cairos. According to Reuters, residents of the city said that informal buildings were torn down at the end of August before the cutoff date had arrived.
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