Inferno destroys prestigious Arab film studio in Cairo

Inferno destroys prestigious Arab film studio in Cairo
Inferno destroys prestigious Arab film studio in Cairo

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Security forces and firefighters gather after a fire at the Al-Ahram Studio and surrounding buildings in Cairo’s Giza district on March 16, 2024. — AFP pic

CAIRO, March 16 — A major fire in Cairo destroyed one of the Arab world’s most prestigious and oldest film production houses, founded 80 years ago, an AFP journalist said.

Flames overtook the Al-Ahram Studio in Cairo’s Giza district, burning everything inside and spreading to three surrounding buildings which were evacuated before the blaze reached them.

Residents of the neighbouring buildings were still sleeping on the ground in nearby streets at dawn on Saturday, the AFP journalist reported.

Deadly fires are a common hazard in Egypt, where fire codes are rarely enforced and emergency services are often slow to arrive.

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In this case, security sources said there were no deaths, though some people suffering smoke inhalation were treated at the scene.

Local media reported that the fire broke out 24 hours after filming finished for a Ramadan television series. The Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which began last Monday, accounts for peak viewership in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, and firefighters needed more than six hours to extinguish it, according to the security sources.

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Yusif Mohammed, a neighbour who witnessed the fire, told AFP that flames “reached the surrounding buildings before fire trucks arrived”.

“No one knows what really happened” to cause it, he said.

Al-Ahram Studio was founded in 1944 and built on 27,000 square metres (290,625 square feet) containing three production stages, a screening room and an editing suite.

Countless Egyptian films and television series were produced there.

In the 1950s Egypt was the third-biggest film producer in the world. Today, mired in the worst economic crisis of its history, Egypt accounts for three-quarters of the Arab world’s cinematic production. — AFP

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