18 killed in Egypt rockslide

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The Independent Online

At least 18 people were killed and 22 injured when a massive rockslide buried a shanty town south of the Egyptian capital Cairo.

A security official said eight rocks weighing between 60 to 70 tons fell on the village at the foot of the Muqattam hills today, crushing some 50 homes. Many are believed to still be buried under the stone.

The official said they were still waiting for heavy machinery to arrive at the scene to help lift the rocks and rescue efforts were currently taking place by hand.

The remains of the town were covered by a thick layer of dust and the scene was chaotic as men and women screamed in grief. People tried to lift the massive rocks by hand calling out the names of relatives and family members stuck under the debris.

"I couldn't find my house this morning," said Mustafa Abdel-Fatah, who spent the night at a friend's house in a different neighbourhood. "I could only see rocks on top of everything."

Rockslides periodically take place on the edges of the brittle Muqattam hills outside Cairo. The base of the cliffs are also home to dozens of slums built by impoverished migrants from the countryside looking for work in the city.

In 1993, some 30 people were killed in another rockslide in the same area.