Seven-story building collapses in Beirut, killing 27

January 17th, 2012 - 8:17 pm ICT by BNO News  

BEIRUT, LEBANON (BNO NEWS) — More than 25 people were killed on late Monday afternoon when a seven-story building collapsed in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, officials said on Tuesday. A dozen others were rescued alive.

The accident happened at around 5 p.m. local time on Monday in the Fassouh neighborhood of the Ashrafieh district in East Beirut. The residential building collapsed within seconds, leaving nothing behind except a pile of rubble and giving residents no time to escape.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told the Daily Star newspaper on Tuesday that emergency teams had pulled out 27 bodies from the debris, including a 15-year-old girl. He said the victims were identified as 11 Lebanese citizens and 16 foreigners.

In the hours after the collapse, rescue workers were able to pull five Lebanese and seven foreigners from the rubble alive and rush them to a local hospital. Search and rescue operations were called off on Tuesday after reports of missing foreigners turned out to be inaccurate, the newspaper said.

The collapsed building, which was built in the 1940s, was home to about 50 people from Sudan, the Philippines, Egypt and Jordan. Among those killed were at least eight Sudanese, two Jordanians, two Egyptians, and two people from the Philippines.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately known, but residents said a loud noise had been heard behind the building on New Year’s Eve, prompting the owner to place metal support poles on both sides of the building. But residents were not aware a collapse was imminent.

Prosecutors have launched an investigation to determine whether the owner was aware of any danger.

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