A high-rise residential building leans on another building in Alexandria on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: A 12-storey apartment building has precariously titled in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, prompting local authorities to declare a state of emergency for fear of a sudden collapse of the highrise located in a residential area.

The tilt occurred Sunday in the neighbourhood of Al Azarita in central Alexandria.

Online pictures of the building showed it leaning against another in a narrow street. Authorities evacuated residents of both buildings and other tenements in the district.

Authorities are racing against time to safely remove the leaning highrise amid worries it could tumble down at any time.

Governor of Alexandria Mohammad Sultan said that a tram service in the area has been halted to prevent vibrations that could expedite the building fall.

“A committee of engineers has been formed to look into the possibility of pulling down the leaning building without any impact on adjoining buildings,” Sultan said in media remarks.

He explained that props would be used to shield the building so that it can be safely removed.

The governor pledged an investigation into the incident and examining the status of other apartment buildings believed to be rickety in the Mediterranean Sea city.

Municipality officials said that the leaning building was originally constructed in 2002 without a permit for two floors only. Two years later, local authorities ordered its evacuation for being unfit for housing after its owner had illegally added 10 more storeys. Residents, however, refused to leave.

The tilt of the building was caused by the removal of an adjoining house, head of the Central Alexandria district Ali Mursi said.

“This has resulted in undermining the foundations of the [leaning] building,” he added.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country of 93 million people, has an acute house shortage.

Thousands of houses have reportedly been illegally built across the country in the years after the 2011 uprising that was followed by security breakdown and political unrest.

Building collapses are not uncommon in Egypt due to poor construction materials, illegal addition of extra floors and lax government oversight.