Blaze engulfs historic ministry building in central Cairo

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.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze or if anyone was hurt.

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.

At least seven fire-trucks 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.