15 trapped in deadly Cairo apartment block collapse, and Morocco flash floods kill 32

Almost 10 inches of rain fell in just a few hours on some areas of Morocco.

RESCUE teams battled to free 15 people trapped in the rubble of a Cairo apartment block early Tuesday after it collapsed during the night, killing at least 10 others.

The Egyptian capital’s emergency services chief General Mamduh Abdelkader said that investigators were still probing the cause of the collapse in the poor eastern neighbourhood of Matariya but that illegal construction work was suspected.

“Ten people have been killed and we fear that number may rise as 15 people are trapped in the rubble,” Abdelkader told AFP.

“We don’t yet know the cause of the accident but we have been told that two storeys were recently added totally illegally.”

Deadly building collapses are not uncommon in Egypt, where safety and planning regulations are widely flouted.

Landlords often add extra floors to buildings whose foundations were not designed to support them.

Meanwhile the toll from three days of what residents described as the heaviest storms to hit southern Morocco in decades climbed to at least 32, authorities said on Monday.

The storms have caused flash floods in much of the south at the foot of the Anti-Atlas Mountains, but a weather alert was finally called off on Monday afternoon.

The interior ministry gave an updated toll of at least 32 dead and six missing.

Rescue teams earlier recovered 11 bodies from high waters near Talmaadart River in the Guelmim region on the edge of the Sahara desert that bore the brunt of the storms.

Authorities said two other people were missing in the same region, while at least five in total were unaccounted for in areas including Ouarzazate and Marrakesh, where cars and trees were swept away by the raging waters.

“We haven’t seen anything like this since the floods of 1986… People were very scared,” resident Mustapha al-Gemrani told AFP by telephone.

“A family returning from a wedding were swept away and we don’t know what has happened to them. But now the skies have cleared and helicopters are overhead,” he said.

Rescue operations have so far “saved 214 people, dozens of whom were evacuated by army and royal guard helicopters”, the interior ministry said.

Around 100 mud-brick homes were partly or totally destroyed in the south, and 100 roads cut off, including six national highways.

According to the 2M television channel, 25 centimetres (almost 10 inches) of rain fell in just a few hours on some areas.

Flash floods are common in Morocco, where four children drowned near Ouarzazate in September.

The authorities have stepped up alert systems in valleys of the Atlas region, especially in the tourist area of Ourika, south of Marrakesh, where hundreds perished in flash floods in 1995.

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