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Cairo rock fall death toll up to 47

afrol News, 8 September - About 47 people are reported dead and scores others injured after massive rock-fall flattened a densely populated shanty town in Cairo today.

Rescuers who had to clear way today for bulldozers to move in to the area, and forced to work with their bare hands and minimal equipment until a route could be made through narrow streets to bring other heavy equipment to the area, have been working non-stop to turn upside-down misery rubble that has befallen Cairo.

Rocks weighing hundreds of tons are said to have tumbled down Mugattam hill onto one of Cairo's poorest and most densely populated areas on Saturday.

Witnesses say that some of those trapped under rubble and rocks contacted their relatives by mobile phones after rockslide to call for help.

Some 100,000 people left homeless by rock fall are reported to have to spend a night in streets despite government's earlier promise to provide them with temporary shelter and compensation.

Meanwhile Shanty town residents are now being evicted from their houses after government decided to demolish all undamaged dwellings in the area amid fears that other rock falls might follow.

However, according to local critics, it is unlikely that alternative permanent accommodation will be provided for homeless shanty town residents, as area was put without authorised permission.

Local residents have also begun to show their anger over government's rescue efforts and their forced eviction from the area today, throwing stones at police officers and other officials.

According to initial information rocks could have been dislodged by leaks from an improvised sewage system that gradually eroded parts of limestone mountain, while another theory is that disaster was caused by construction work on top of Mugattam.

Egypt often makes headlines due to collapse of poorly constructed buildings.

A 12 storey building collapsed in Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria killing 27 people in late December 2007.

"It was horror," said Hassan Ibrahim Hassan, whose house escaped destruction. He added that "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 collapsed."

Rescue teams were forced to wait for arrival of cranes and heavy lifting equipment to allow them to move huge rocks, but as night fell help had not arrived.

"I couldn't find my house this morning, I could only see rocks on top of everything," said Mustafa Adel fatah, who like many of the shanty town dwellers were under a thick layer of dust that has covered the remains of the town.

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