t least twenty six people were killed when a residential building collapsed in Beirut and rescue workers were searching on Monday for people believed still buried under the rubble, Lebanese officials said.
“Until now, 26 bodies have been recovered and we believe there are more buried under the building that collapsed Sunday evening,” International Red Cross (IRC) official Georges Kettaneh told AFP on Monday evening.
Kettaneh also said that 12 wounded were recovered from under the rubble
The head of the General Security Department, Brig. Gen. Raymond Khattar, said earlier on Monday the bodies of seven Lebanese, seven Sudanese, three Filipinos and two Egyptians were retrieved from the rubble of the apartment building in the neighborhood of Fassouh that was built in the 1940s.
IRC did not disclose the nationality of the new bodies found
Around 10 people are still missing. But rescuers began facing a new hurdle in the afternoon because of heavy rain.
The five-story building collapsed in the Ashrafiyeh district of the Lebanese capital on Sunday evening.
“We are hoping to find people alive. There are still some missing,” Ali Hassan Khalil, the health minister told LBC television earlier today.
All those rescued were taken to nearby hospitals.
PM Najib Mikati ordered yesterday the formation of a team of experts to probe the incident .
Authorities are now questioning Michel Saadeh the owner of the building to find out whether the incident was due to his negligence or the construction of an adjacent new building .
A resident who escaped with her mother said the building was extremely run-down and the owner had recently warned tenants to move out.
Neighbors said dozens of people had lived in the building.
Among the dead was a 15-year-old girl
“It was like an earthquake” when the building collapsed, one witness told the local MTV channel.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman visited the site on Sunday evening and so did Interior Minister Marwan Charbel.
Charbel said it was essential to carry out a survey of similar buildings across the country, many of which were built illegally or had several floors added without proper permits.