A fire destroyed more than 95 per cent of a market in the city of Marsa Matruh on Sunday morning.
There were no deaths caused by the fire but eight people were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation. It has been reported that there was a dispute between the market owners and the market workers over the rental price of a plot in the market.
Ahmed Zakaria, a resident of Marsa Matruh, said “there were two fires, the first was started around two in the morning at the front of the market but some people nearby managed to put it out quickly. The second was started between four or four thirty in the morning at the back of the market and it spread quickly.”
Zakaria added, “the fire engulfed the whole market; more than 95 per cent of it has been destroyed.” The market is the biggest in the Matruh governorate and is known for selling goods smuggled from Libya. Zakaria observed “the estimation of the cost of the damage is about EGP three million.”
According to Zakaria, “the firemen arrived too late to prevent the fire from destroying the market, it spread very quickly and there are no safety precautions in place in the market. About eight fire engines came and eventually they put out the fire.”
Khalid Al-Seniny, another resident of Marsa Matruh said, “an investigation in to what happened has begun but we do not know exactly how the fire was started.”
Zakaria reported, “There was an argument last night [Saturday] between the market workers and the market owners about the rental price in the market. We do not know if this is connected to the fire but it could be.”
State news agency MENA reported presidential spokesperson, Yasser Ali, announced that President Mohamed Morsy told Major General Ahmed Helmy Fathi Al-Hatimi, the newly appointed governor of Matruh to “limit the damage and to take all necessary measures to limit the repercussions of this tragic incident.”
MENA also reported the minister of insurance and social affairs, Nagwa Hussein Ahmed Khalel, has pledged a maximum of EGP 5,000 for each shop that had insurance and was damaged in the fire. Khalel added that the ministry would consider compensation for shops that were not insured.
The new governor of Matruh, Al-Hatimi, visited the site of the fire with the chief of police on Sunday. Al-Hatimi was appointed by Morsy last week to replace General Taha Mohamed Al-Sayed after a month long sit-in by residents of Matruh demanding Al-Sayed be replaced.