Blaze engulfs historic ministry building in central Cairo

  • World
  • Saturday, 05 Aug 2023

Smoke rises as Egyptian firefighters extinguish a fire that broke out in the historic neo-Islamic ministry in central Cairo, Egypt, August 5, 2023. REUTERS/Patrick Werr

CAIRO (Reuters) -A historic neo-Islamic ministry in central Cairo was engulfed in flames on Saturday, only days after its employees had moved to premises in a new capital city under construction in the desert 45km east of Cairo.

The fire appeared mainly confined to the top floor of the Ministry of Religious Endowments, or Awqaf, building, although flames were seen shooting out of a second floor window as well, according to a Reuters reporter.

No one was hurt in the blaze, and a committee was being formed to determine its cause and the amount of damage sustained, a ministry spokesman told Reuters.

At least seven firetrucks were deployed, and after several hours the fire was largely extinguished.

The main part of the building was built in 1898, with wings added on either side in 1912 and 1927. Most of the ministry's employees moved to the new capital, away from the clutter and chaos of Cairo, in late July.

Some former ministry buildings are to be repurposed under Egypt's Sovereign Fund, a process the government hopes will draw badly needed investment and help regenerate central Cairo.

(Reporting by Patrick Werr and Moamen Saeed Atallah; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Giles Elgood)

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