Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous Post | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next Post »

EGYPT: Survivors of rock slide at slum protest in anger

September 16, 2008 |  8:15 am


Many of those left homeless by last week’s rock slide demonstrated in front of Cairo’s City Hall this week to push the government, which they say has reacted slowly to a tragedy that killed as many as 160 residents, to provide them with shelter.

In the meantime, the atmosphere at the Douaiqa slums became more volatile as survivors threw stones at police after authorities called off the search for the many who remain missing. Eight people were arrested, according to the local press.

The latest official death toll is 86; residents say at least 160 were killed.

The fall of massive boulders on the slum has exposed the failure of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime to contain poverty and achieve development. In the wake of the incident, the government made promises of financial compensation to the victims’ families and decent houses in safe areas. Yet, so far, the government has not delivered on its promises.

A crowd camped out in front of the capital’s municipality after the police reportedly evacuated them by force from their neighborhood. Police have prevented journalists from reaching the scene, a move that was viewed by some as an attempt by the government to conceal its poor handling of the crisis. Some female reporters sneaked into the area undercover, wearing long back veils and robes.

“I will sleep in the street until I am given an apartment where my daughter and I can be sheltered,” said Moemena Abdel Wahhab, a woman camping at the municipality as quoted in Cairo's El-Badeel newspaper.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo: Security forces and firefighters search for bodies last week. Credit: Khaled El-Fiqqi / EPA

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates," and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.