A five-story building in the Choueifat area, south of Beirut, collapsed on Sunday morning, according to local media outlets and internet users posting on social networks. Numerous videos taken by local residents document the moment the building, located in a densely urbanized area, collapsed completely.
No casualties have been reported in the collapse.
"Residents felt a tremor and the building began to pitch, the tiles and windows began to crack. The building was evacuated at 7:30 a.m. Ten minutes later, it collapsed," Hassan Zeaiter, owner of a store at the bottom of the building, told our reporter Mohammad Yassin.
"The inhabitants have nowhere to go," Hassan added. He also remarked that the building was constructed some 30 years ago.
Amal Movement MP Ghazi Zeaiter has called on the authorities "to house the building's inhabitants as quickly as possible."
"Construction standards should be respected to avoid this kind of tragedy. There were at least 15 families living here," he told L'Orient-Jour.
L'Orient-Le Jour attempted to contact the head of the Choueifat municipal council for further information, but he could not be reached immediately.
Shortly after the incident, caretaker Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh visited the site to inquire about the situation of the building's inhabitants and the neighborhood, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported.
The secretary-general of the Higher Relief Committee, Gen. Mohammad Kheir, was also due to visit the scene of the collapse at 1 p.m. on Sunday to supervise clearance work, the NNA added.
In October, a building collapsed in Mansourieh, east of Beirut, killing eight women.
Several partial or complete building collapses have occurred across the country over the years. There have been repeated calls for the relevant authorities to identify buildings at risk, but an effective mechanism for this remains unestablished. The most fatal incident of building collapse remains that of a residential building in Fassouh, in the Achrafieh district of Beirut, on Jan. 15, 2012, which caused the deaths of around 20 people.