By Aimen Eljali.
Tripoli, 9 December 2013:
Three Egyptians were crushed to death today when the roof of part of the condemned downtown . . .[restrict]building off Tripoli’s Shara Omar Mukhtar in which they were living came crashing down into the room where they were sleeping. It is thought that it had been weakened by the recent heavy rains. The accident happened around 3 in the morning.
The three men, all cousins, were named by neighbours as Muhamedeen Shaaban Hamidi, Hassan Abuali Hamidi and Lualim Abuawad Hamidi, all from the Upper Egyptian city of Assiut. In their 40s, they were said to have been working as construction labourers in Tripoli. Four other Egyptians sharing the accommodation with them but sleeping in other rooms in the apartment survived, although one suffered a broken arm. Two Libyan families living in another part of the 1930s-era three-story Italian building in Shara Gamal Abdul Nasser also escaped alive.
The landlord had been arrested according to one of the neighbours who said that the decaying property had been taken by the Qaddafi regime and then lain derelict for years but that he had reclaimed it after the revolution and, despite its squalid, ramshackle state, had started renting it out.
The roof collapsed over one of the rooms, bringing its floor crashing down onto the next one and it to the one below. Neighbours had rushed to pull the victims out. In the wreckage on the ground floor, open to the sky, the heaped belongings of the dead men, were jumbled together.
By chance, the parlous state of the structure has been specifically remarked upon by a Libya Herald reporter just a couple of weeks ago. The area, full of badly maintained buildings rented out to poor Libyan families and foreigners, has seen a number of buildings collapse with deadly results in the past year.
In May, five people died when house fell down in nearby Shara Derna. That disaster provoked local fury with residents blocking Shara Omar Mukhtar and demanding action either to make buildings safe or to rehouse people. The owner of the nearby Four Seasons Hotel said at the time that the government should evacuate the area.
There has been action since then by any of the authorities to evaluate the safety of the buildings.
The bodies of the three were taken to Tripoli Central Hospital and are expected to be flown to Egypt tomorrow for burial. [/restrict]