Cairo rockslide death toll climbs

The death toll from a rockslide that crushed dozens of houses in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, has reached 43.

Rescuers are continuing to search for survivors after houses in a shanty town in the eastern Duwayqa area were hit by huge boulders on Saturday.

It is unclear what triggered the rockslide but local residents were blaming quarrying work higher up the Muqattam hills overlooking Cairo.

At least 57 people were injured and dozens are said to be still trapped.

At least eight boulders – some estimated to weigh about 70 tonnes – fell from the towering cliffs of the Muqattam onto Duwayqa district on Saturday morning.

‘Horror’

Teams of rescuers – some with heavy lifting machinery but some using only their bare hands – worked through the night searching for survivors.

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Local people say they believe there are many more victims trapped or missing than the official government estimates.

A six-storey building below the Muqattam hills had been completely obliterated, residents said.

“The power went out, we heard a loud bang like an earthquake and I thought this house had collapsed. I went out, I saw the whole mountain had collapsed,” said Hassan Ibrahim Hassan, 80, whose house escaped the destruction.

“It was horror,” he said.

A BBC correspondent says the area is known to have had landslides previously.

Anger

One resident who spoke to the BBC said the local authority had been breaking rocks on the cliffs, which she suspected caused the landslide.

“The people from the authorities for the last nine months were keeping us in our homes and breaking stones every day. We saw a boulder coming down on us, on our houses, on the children, our belongings, and our neighbours and they pulled them out dead. Just as you see, no-one has done anything to help since yesterday.”

Another angry resident said that those responsible for causing the landslide should be held to account:

“These people should have been moved from their houses, and we blame the government for this, and we will not relinquish our rights, and the blood of Egyptians is not cheap.”

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