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Egypt: Rocks Slide over Slums in Cairo

Egypt woke up on breaking news that “Casualties & injuries in rock blocks collapse over slums of Doweiqa, Cairo” on a Twitter update by Egyptian blogger Noura Yunis on Saturday.

A massive rocky body fell from the Mokhatam Mountain, crashing down few apartments just below it, at around 7am, killing at least 30 people.

Ibn Ad Dunya explains:

At approximately 9 AM local time, a rockslide with eight rocks fell on houses in the area, reducing a six-storey house to rubble, in total approximately 35 houses are destroyed and under the rocks, some of them 30 m high and weighing between 60-70 tones.

The Civil Defense, police with sniffer dogs and people from one the leading construction companies Osman Ahmed Osman Construction are at the sight, but people are calling for more to be done and for a quicker response and the involvement of the Army in the rescue efforts. Most of the rescue efforts until now have been done by hand and by the relatives and neighbors themselves according to news reports. Eyewitness claim that screams and mobile phones could be heard from people under the rubble.

Blogger JJ, wrote his report after visiting the place, in a post entitled Rock slide in Cairo:

Toward the scene of the destruction, crowds of onlookers had gathered to watch the rescue efforts. People were obviously in shock at what had happened to their neighborhood. Several women were screaming and crying, slapping themselves in the face in complete disbelief.
When I was there, there were hundreds of onlookers sitting on the actual boulders that had fallen to get a better view.
There seemed to be a sense from many of the distraught onlookers that, being a shantytown, there would not be a lot of attention given to those still trapped; they wanted the media to cover the rescue efforts.
“Don’t leave! You have to get back down there and keep filming!” one man begged me. I tried explaining to him that I wasn’t leaving; that I needed to get several angles to cover the magnitude of the disaster area. He didn’t understand.
Another man ran up to a different camera crew and yelled at them as they also repositioned themselves. “Get down there and take photographs, you sons of dogs!” he screamed emphatically.
Rescue workers used shovels and hands to dig up rubble as they searched for survivors. But there was hardly anywhere for them to place the dirt and rocks that they had just dug up.

In another post, he further adds:

Most of the news sites are reporting that the death and injury toll is expected to rise. That seems accurate. Because of the size of the boulders that fell and the lack of vehicular access in and out of the site, it will take a long time to clear the rubble – especially when most of the rescue work is being done by hand.

Egyptian blogger Zeinobia was following and updating with the latest news about the catastrophe, saying:

• The army since the afternoon and the police are trying to remove an old unused railway that has been there since pre-1952 ,My grand ma remembers it. If they remove ,they will be able to enter heavy machines from bulldozers so they can remove the massive rocks. The area is too narrow to let bulldozers reach the place.
• The only bulldozer there is owned by the army and it is not that good.
• Now the people are looking for torches so they can search for their relatives alone.
• The death toll reached to 30 persons :(
• The government evacuated at last the neighbor houses for fear of other rockslides “Too late”
• The prime minister visited the injured El-Hussein Hospital and said that the government would have given those misfortunate families the keys of their new houses in Suzanne Mubarak residential project after 3 weeks but fate did not give them a Chance !! “Yes , blame it on fate , it is easy to blame it on some else !!”

Blogger Ahmed AbdEl Fatah, who also visited the scene and took few photos, also commented in his post The Dewiqa tragedy:

الي شوفته النهرده مشفتهوش طوال عمري ولا كنت اتخيل الي ممكن اشوفه
تخيل انك قاعد فوق صخرة متاكد ان تحتها مئة واحد علي الاقل بين اموات ومصابين
تخيل ان 500 فرد اختفوا مرةواحدة وان اكثر من 38 بيت مبقاش ليهم اثر
تخيل………….. مش عارف ممكن تتخيل ايه
بس الي انا عارفه كويس ان الي شوفته النهرده مش خيال ممكن كان يكون كابوس بشع وهصحي منه قريب
لكن لغاية لما اصحي منه اسيبكم مع صور الكابوس
I never saw that I saw today before, and I had never imagined that I would see it someday.
Imagine you are sitting on a rock and sure that under the rock lay 100 people at least, dead or injured.
Imagine 500 people disappear at once, and over 38 houses vanished.
Imagine.. I am not sure what you can imagine.
But one I am sure of.. What I saw today is not imagination at all, it might be a terrible nightmare and I should wake up from it very soon.

Photo Credit: Mohamed Al-Ghafari at Picasa

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