Cairo, Egypt A 12-story building that had drawn police attention for alleged illegal renovations collapsed in a Cairo suburb during a fire Monday night, killing at least five people, including three firefighters. At least 10 people remained trapped.
All but two of the trapped were firefighters and police officers dispatched to put out the blaze, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Hundreds of people lived in the building, but most had evacuated by the time it collapsed three hours after the fire began in a home appliances store.
The owner of the building had illegally added four floors 12 years ago and ignored an order to tear them down, police said. Tenants had also complained to police six days ago about renovations in the store where the fire began; they feared the work would damage the building's foundations.
The 33 people hospitalized included both police and residents. There was no immediate word on the nature of the injuries or their conditions.
The officials first said the fire broke out at an Egyptian fast-food restaurant on the ground floor, but later reported it began at the adjacent store.
A police officer at the scene, briefing reporters afterward, also said 16 people were trapped. The unnamed officer identified the civilians as workers in the store where the fire started.
But the Middle East News Agency quoted Cairo security chief Nabil el-Ezzabi as saying eight people, including three police officers, remained trapped about three hours after the collapse. It was not clear if the discrepancy was due to people having been pulled out of the rubble.
The building, built in 1981, was in Nasr City, an eastern suburb of the Egyptian capital near the airport. The area is home to many high-rise residential buildings and shopping areas.
Rescuers cleared rubble by hand in search of survivors for several hours and were joined by bulldozers today.
Building collapses are common in Egypt and are often caused by shoddy construction.