Gaza-Egypt smuggling tunnel collapses

Egyptian security official: One smuggler buried alive, another injured; tunnel was nearly completed.

March 12, 2008 14:49
Gaza-Egypt smuggling tunnel collapses

gaza tunnel 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

An underground tunnel collapsed early Wednesday near Egypt's border with the Gaza strip, burying alive one smuggler and injuring another, a security official said. Palestinian smuggler Mohammed el-Bashiti and five others had nearly finished expanding the 600 meter tunnel from Gaza into Egypt located 10 meters beneath the ground, when the ceiling gave way, said the official. According to the official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, el-Bashiti precipitated the collapse of the tunnel's sandy ceiling when he pushed a pole through to the surface in an effort to show his accomplices where the tunnel ended. The tunnel, which stretched from the al-Salam district on the Palestinian side and ended in Rafah's Canada neighborhood on the Egyptian side, was an old one the smugglers were attempting to renovate. Electric tools, lamps and other equipment were also buried, the official said, adding that the five other smugglers managed to escape, including the injured one. Palestinian smugglers use tunnels to bring weapons and contraband goods into Gaza from Egypt. Israel says anti-tank missiles, tons of explosives and thousands of rifles have reached terrorists in Gaza through the tunnels.

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