16 feared trapped under Beirut building

2012-01-16 17:45
Beirut - At least 19 people were killed when an old six-storey building in the Lebanese capital collapsed, officials said on Monday, adding that some 16 other victims were feared still trapped under the rubble.

"Until now, 19 bodies have been recovered and about 16 are still buried under the building that collapsed Sunday evening," General Raymond Khattar, head of Lebanon's civil defence, told AFP.

Red Cross official Georges Kettaneh said 12 people were also injured, none of them seriously.

Khattar said the bodies recovered by rescuers who worked all through the night include those of seven Lebanese, six Sudanese, two Filipinos and two Egyptians.

The building housed some 50 people, many of them African labourers, he said, adding at least eight were known to have escaped as the building came down.

Owner warned tenants

Among the dead was a 15-year-old Lebanese girl, while those hurt included her grandmother as well as a 73-year-old Lebanese man.

"It was like an earthquake," one witness told the local MTV channel.

One resident who escaped with her mother said the building was extremely run-down and the owner had warned tenants not to remain there shortly before it disintegrated.

She told local television that she and her mother managed to escape as the building came tumbling down but her father and three brothers remained trapped.

A Syrian labourer employed at a building site nearby said debris started falling from the building in early evening before the entire block came crashing down.

"We saw small pieces of stone falling down but no one paid any attention at the start," he told AFP.

"Then large chunks of stone started falling and people began screaming for everyone to get out.
"Within minutes, the building was on the floor."

Several anxious relatives of the victims remained at the site on Monday hoping for news of their loved ones. Many wept and others said prayers as rescuers painstakingly sifted through the rubble, aided by bulldozers.

"Where are all the political leaders?" shouted one woman. "They only show up when they want our vote."

Survey of similar sites - minister


President Michel Sleiman rushed to the site on Sunday evening as did Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and other officials.

Charbel told reporters the building's owner was detained for questioning and a probe was underway.

He added it was essential to carry out a survey of similar buildings throughout the country, many of which were built illegally or had several storeys added without proper permits.

There was speculation that heavy rain may have contributed to Sunday's disaster, worsening the condition of the building.

Beirut mayor Bilal Hamad told reporters that a committee would be set up to survey dangerous buildings in the capital.

Read more on:    lebanon

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Top 10 richest musicians of all time

Check out the gallery to find out who they are!

 
 

Luxury living

Seven of the most expensive children's toys ever made
5 millionaires turned murderers
The youngest billionaires in the world and how they made it
Watch: Flying first class has never been this luxurious!
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are active, busy and on a mission today. There may be a special person you wish to entertain and may put in the extra effort...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.