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Egypt: Clothing factory fire near Cairo kills dozens

24 people reportedly injured by the blaze on the north-eastern outskirts of Egypt's capital
A policeman on guard by a fire engine after a fire broke out in a garment factory northeast of Cairo, Egypt. 11 March 2021 (Reuters)

Dozens of people were killed and 24 others injured in a fire at a clothing factory on the north-eastern outskirts of Cairo on Thursday.

The local governor's office confirmed that at least 20 people had died in the four-storey blaze in the industrial area of El-Obour. 

Twelve fire engines were dispatched to deal with the blaze. The cause of the accident is still not clear. 

One survivor, who endured burns across a quarter of his body, said he was nearly overcome by the smoke when he escaped the fire. 

"I had two young women with me and a young man who I pushed so they could avoid the blaze," Mahmoud Mohamed, who had been working at the factory for a year, told Al Youm al-Sabea newspaper.

"I led them outside, running as the fire burned my body," he added.

Egypt has witnessed a series of fires in recent years due to poor building safety restrictions caused by a security vacuum following the 2011 revolution.

Last month, a fire at an unlicensed shoe warehouse in Giza eventually engulfed a 13-storey building. No casualties were reported. 

In May 2020, another fire broke out, at a mattress factory in the same industrial area, though there was no loss of life reported at the time.

In the same year, a fire erupted next to a busy Cairo highway as a leak from an oil pipeline was set ablaze by passing cars, leaving 17 people hurt.

In 2019, at least 10 people were killed when a chemical tank exploded at a phosphate factory in the Red Sea port of Ain Sokhna.