Mudslide collapses roof of Jerusalem cafe 6 die

March 01, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

JERUSALEM -- A mudslide from a centuries-old cemetery collapsed the roof of a Palestinian coffee house yesterday, killing at least six men and wounding 15 others. An estimated 30 more were buried beneath the rubble and feared dead.

Palestinian youths and Israeli paramilitary border police worked shoulder-to-shoulder to extricate the dead and injured. A steady drizzle of rain complicated the rescue efforts.

The disaster occurred at the Al Rawdah Cafe just outside the ancient walled Old City in Arab East Jerusalem.

All of the victims were believed to be men.

The accident happened about 4:30 p.m. Jerusalem's deputy mufti, Sheik Mohammed Jamil, said he stepped out of the coffee house, jammed with up to 60 customers, moments before the collapse. As he walked away, he said, he heard a rumble and crash behind him.

The sheik said he managed to rush back and rescue four customers from the collapsing building. They were among 15 people police counted as injured. Six bodies were recovered from the rubble.

The coffee shop, a stone and concrete structure, was built just beneath a high ridge on which stood an ancient burial ground.

Police attributed the mudslide to the weeks of snow and rainfall that have lashed Jerusalem. Police spokeswoman Anat Granit said there was no evidence that the event had any political background.

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