The collapse of a six-storey Cairo apartment house has intensified general fears in the Egyptian capital about increasing signs of decay in its structures and services.
CAIRO, EGYPT (RECENT) ( REUTERS - MOHAMAD FAHMY)
GVs Traffic congestion in Cairo (2 shots) 0.21
GV Fly-over highway under construction (2 shots) 0.36
GV Child sitting on donkey 0.40
GV TILT DOWN Building 0.49
GV PAN Nile River 0.58
GV Broken sewage pipes and cleaning of pipes (2 shots) 1.10
GV Repair work on sewage pipes (2 shots) 1.27
SV Minister of Reconstruction, Hassab Allah El-Kafrawi, inspecting work on sewage construction 1.33
GV Overflowing rubbish bins 1.46
GV Sewage flooding onto streets (3 shots) 2.09
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Background: The collapse of a six-storey Cairo apartment house has intensified general fears in the Egyptian capital about increasing signs of decay in its structures and services. Earlier this month (December), the building in Bassatine in south Cairo crumbled without warning, killing 55 people, although it had only been standing for five years. Preliminary inquiries showed the owner, who died in the collapse, has been licensed to build only three floors; the additional levels appear to have overtaxed the foundation. Topping a building with unapproved extra floors is common practice in Cairo, and roof extensions are often built on top of buildings already badly dilapidated. So, this type of collapse has been widely predicted. Similar warnings of breakdown are often made about the sewage, electricity and water services. Most of the systems were constructed at the beginning of the century when Cairo had a population of two million, compared to an estimated 12 to 14 million today. Earlier this month, a tide of escaping sewage spilled over the road to the Pyramids, blocking streets in the suburb of Giza. This caused President Hosni Mubarak to intervene personally; he declared the containment of sewage a top priority. But repair work is moving slowly. The system is in such a wretched state that, soon after one leak has been fixed, another starts. The Minister for reconstruction Hassab Allah El-Kafrawi, recently visited Giza to inspect the sewage repair work. The residents of Giza have had to splash through pools of brown fluid in the streets and go without domestic water with pumping stations closed down for fear of forcing the sewage even more rapidly out of the broken pipes. Some residents said the level of the sewage was half a metre (20 inches) deep in their basements.