Five killed in Algiers building collapse

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Five members of the same family were killed Monday when a dilapidated building collapsed in the Algerian capital’s UNESCO-listed Casbah district, officials said.

The four-storey building in the historic Old City was located across the street from the landmark Ketchaoua Mosque, which was built during Ottoman rule.

Rescuers and sniffer dogs combed the rubble all day to recover the bodies and to search for survivors.

Residents said the victims were a man, his wife, the man’s brother and two children; one a child aged eight and the other a baby a few months old.

They had been squatting in the building, after its formal occupants had been evacuated several months ago by the authorities due to concerns about the structure, residents said.

Residents blamed authorities for the tragedy and chased away the governor of Algiers when he arrived at the site, forcing him to leave the scene surrounded by bodyguards and police, an AFP reporter said.

A few hours later state television announced the sacking of the governor, and the dismissal of five others from the country’s 48 provinces, without giving any explanation.

A woman at the scene said the building “was falling into ruins” and should have been “renovated or destroyed.”

She said authorities had fixed the facade of the building for the inauguration of Katchaoua Mosque last year after the latter underwent three years of renovation.

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