An investigation is underway to discover the cause behind a massive fire that erupted over the weekend inside an empty building of the Ministry of Endowments in the Egyptian capital Cairo, as activists were quick to claim “foul play.”
Prosecutors examined the scene, reviewed surveillance cameras, and questioned security personnel at the building and several concerned officials, concluding that the fire first broke out inside a room housing computer servers on the first floor and then spread to 17 offices in the second and four others on the roof during the evening of Saturday, 5 August, according to the general prosecutor’s office latest statement.
The fire destroyed old personnel files that had already been scanned, local news outlets reported, citing official sources.
Firefighters battled the blaze at the historic building, which dates back to the 19th century, as the Cairo governor ordered a technical committee to examine the structure’s current condition, local news outlets reported.
The ministry’s operations and employees had been moved to the recently-inaugurated building in the New Administrative Capital on the outskirts of Cairo earlier last month, among other governmental entities. At the same time, all official documents had also been transferred to the new headquarters or digitalised.
Meanwhile, social media activists suggested “a conspiracy theory” behind the incident, alleging the fire was “no accident but rather premeditated to hide the truth behind Egypt’s ownership of properties in Greece.”
On Thursday, exactly two days before the fire broke out, Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received the Greek Prime Minister Kyriako Mitsotaks in the Mediterranean New Alamein City, who, according to sources close to the presidency, had reportedly asked Sisi to ignore a long, unresolved argument on Egypt’s claimed ownership of properties on islands in Greece as well as other valuable assets.
Egypt’s properties in Greece date back to Egypt’s Khedive Muhammad Ali Pasha, who ruled Egypt during the 18th century.
The source declined to be named and claimed that “the documents proving Egypt’s rights to the island and other properties may have been destroyed on purpose in the fire.”
“Everybody at the ministry, even the cleaners, knew about the everlasting cause of Egypt’s ownership of Greek lands,” the source said, adding, “Because Egypt has other interests with Greece, the president chose to ignore the whole issue.”
The New Arab cannot verify the veracity of these claims, but such conspiracy theories are rife in Egypt on account of the government’s lack of transparency in making sovereign decisions.
The Cairo-based East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF( was established in 2020, comprising eight countries, including Egypt and Greece, to boost the trade of natural gas among the regional states.
Source : New Arab