Families on the outskirts of Cairo were in tears on Saturday after massive rocks from the towering Muqattam hills fell upon their homes, leaving at least 31 people dead with fears of others in the rubble.
By nightfall, rescuers were attempting to search for survivors by hand.
According to police reports, at least eight gigantic boulders, many the size of small homes, fell onto the poor Manshiyet Nasr shantytown. Some 50 homes were buried beneath the rocks.
Residents in the densely populated area said the incident occurred early in the morning, when most of the area was fast asleep after their early morning Suhur meal, that is, the final meal taken before the daylong fast during Ramadan.
“We don’t know where our families are and if they are still alive,” one resident of the area said.
Police said that several people had been reported injured and dozens more were missing and feared dead.
Haidar Baghdadi, the parliamentarian for the region, said buried residents were calling for help from under the rubble using cell phones.
He added that the area was known to be dangerous and the residents were supposed to be resettled in government housing facilities. He also criticized the lack of government emergency response.
“We should have removed these rocks five years ago to protect the people underneath or moved the people,” he said, blaming the Housing Ministry for the disaster.