CAIRO: By press time Monday, the number of bodies pulled from the rockslide disaster site in the shantytown of Duweiqa had reached 51 and another 47 people were injured when over 30 homes were flattened early Saturday.
Observers and opposition papers, however, believe that hundreds must have been trapped or killed under the rubble.
President Hosni Mubarak ordered the government to provide all the residents of the ill-fated area with housing within days during a meeting with the Prime Minister and other members of cabinet on Sunday.
In addition, he pointed out the importance of addressing the problem of squatter settlements and taking all the necessary measures to put an end to their expansion, according to Cairo Governor Abdel Azim Wazir who spoke to state television after the meeting.
Rescue teams continued to clear away the rubble in search of missing residents who may be buried underneath the ruins.
Aboul-Ela Amin Mohammed, the head of the earthquake department at the National Research Institute for Astronomy and Geophysics, told the Associated Press (AP) that the entire plateau remains in danger of further collapse.
It is not the first or the last time, he continued. The area is full of densely packed, informal housing with no central sewer system. … When the sewage touches the fragile surface of the limestone it changes its consistency into a flour-like paste.
At 9 am Saturday, huge boulders slid off the Moqqatam hill quashing 35 homes in Izbet Bekhit in the greater Manshiyet Nasser area. The section of the hill that slid off was estimated at 60 meters wide and 15 meters high with some of the boulders weighing as much as 70 tons.
The cause of the slide has not been confirmed, but residents believe that it was caused by sewage works by the local council for buildings at the top of the hill. That is why the smaller pieces that cracked off from the slide were slushy as if mixed with liquid.
After an emergency meeting on Saturday, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said there would be a full review of housing settlements built throughout the country without construction permits, known as ashwaeeyat or squatter settlements, according to AFP.
Minister of Social Solidarity Ali Moselhi said LE 5,000 would be paid to the family of each victim and LE 1,000 to those who were injured, the official MENA news agency reported.