ALEPPO: A building collapsed Sunday in Syria’s war-damaged second city of Aleppo, killing 16 people including children, with the search for survivors extending into the night.
Much of Aleppo was destroyed during Syria’s conflict that began nearly 12 years ago and left many of the remaining structures in a decrepit state.
“The number of victims of the residential building collapse… has risen to 16 dead,” said state news agency SANA. A war monitor said they were Syrians who had been displaced during the war.
Four people were rescued alive from the rubble, SANA reported, saying they were injured.
It gave earlier on Sunday an initial death toll of 10 people that increased throughout the day.
Dozens of rescue workers toiled at the site as darkness fell, an AFP correspondent said, and some used their bare hands to dig into the grey rubble.
Earth movers scooped up the pieces of building material, sending dust into the air, the correspondent added.
A Kurdish news agency reported five children were among the dead. One of them was an infant, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
According to the interior ministry, the five-storey building was home to seven families. Locals told that about 35 people lived there.
Buildings in Aleppo, Syria’s pre-war commercial hub, often collapse due to the dilapidated infrastructure as well as little oversight to ensure the safety of new construction projects, some built illegally.
SANA quoted a police source as saying that the building, in the city’s Sheikh Maksoud neighbourhood, had collapsed “due to a water leak” in the foundations.
The neighbourhood is predominantly inhabited by Syrian Kurds who are under the authority of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, part of the Kurdish authorities’ de facto army.
Aleppo itself is, however, under the control of the government which took it back from rebels during devastating urban combat.
The British-based Syrian Observatory reported the victims were displaced people from Afrin, further north, where neighbouring Turkey carried out an offensive in 2018.
Nearly half a million people have been killed in Syria’s conflict which began in 2011 and displaced about half of the country’s pre-war population.
Many of those forced from their homes had to move into buildings that are structurally unsound, resulting in relatively frequent collapses.
Last September, a building collapse in the Ferdaws neighbourhood of Aleppo killed 10 people, including three children.
A war-damaged block of flats also crumbled in the city in February 2019, leaving 11 people dead with four children among them.