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Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 13:49 UK

Cairo rockslide death toll climbs

Rescue workers remove the corpse of a child from the rubble in Cairo
Local people believe there are many more victims in the rubble

At least 51 people are known to have died in a rockslide at a shanty town in Cairo, the Egyptian capital.

Some reports say hundreds more people may be buried beneath the rubble. Hopes of finding more survivors are fading though rescue efforts continue.

The authorities have been criticised for a delay in sending heavy machinery.

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

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.

'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.

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

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Aftermath of Cairo rockslide

"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."




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Cairo rescue bid
07 Sep 08 |  In Pictures
Deadly rockslide hits Cairo homes
06 Sep 08 |  Middle East
In pictures: Cairo rockslide
06 Sep 08 |  In Pictures


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