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Cameroon: death toll rises to 40 in building collapse

Cameroon: death toll rises to 40 in building collapse
Illustration photo: people gather near the train accident in Eseka,   -  
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Joel Kouam/Copyright 2016 The AP. All rights reserved.


The collapse last weekend of an apartment building in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, killed at least 40 people according to a new provisional report from the governor of the Littoral region, sent to AFP on Wednesday.

A previous report from the authorities deplored 37 dead on Monday, including a "three-year-old girl and a 19-year-old young woman", said the Laquintinie hospital in Douala on Sunday.

During the night from Saturday to Sunday, a four-story apartment building in the north of the city partially collapsed on top of another one-story residential building.

Three days after this collapse, one of the deadliest in the country's history, the balance sheet stands, still provisionally, at 40 dead and 20 injured, including four in absolute emergency, according to the communication office of Samuel Dieudonné Ivaha Diboua, the governor of the Littoral, one of the ten regions of Cameroon.

"I have given firm instructions to the competent authorities (...) to open an investigation in order to elucidate the causes of this tragedy", wrote the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, in a telegram addressed to the Governor of the Littoral, and streamed on Twitter on Tuesday, rebranded as "X".

The 90-year-old head of state, including more than 40 at the head of Cameroon, also “demanded” “preventive measures” and “ more restrictive security guarantees”, calling on the authorities to “the greatest vigilance”.

Coming to show her support for the victims and the relief workers in Douala on Monday, Célestine Ketcha-Courtès , the Minister of Urban Development, indicated that "the building in question did not have a building permit".

Several residents of the district testified to AFP of the dilapidated state of the building, notably mentioning "cracks" in the walls. Two of them claimed that a festive event was taking place in the building at the time of the events.

"I am very worried. There are so many buildings that do not meet the standards. Everyone gets up and builds anyhow without any control. We have the impression that the competent services of the town hall do not carry out their work", had notably regretted Prosper Tchinda, a 42-year-old computer scientist, and resident of the district for 15 years.

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