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, said.
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
labourers from Sudan and Egypt, he said, adding at least eight
were known to have escaped as the building came down.
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, at least two Sudanese, an Egyptian and a
"It was like an earthquake," one witness told the local
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 said. "Then large
chunks of stone started falling and people began screaming for
everyone to get out.
"Within minutes, the building was on the floor."
First Published: Monday, January 16, 2012, 20:40