Four missing in Gaza after tunnel collapse

Four missing in Gaza after tunnel collapse
Rescue teams are still searching for four Palestinians who went missing on Tuesday after Egypt flooded a tunnel below the border with the Gaza Strip.
2 min read
01 December, 2016
The tunnels have long been used to smuggle people and much-needed goods [AFP]

Civil defense teams were deployed for the third day on Tuesday in search for four Palestinian workers who were reported missing after the collapse of a border tunnel between Gaza and Egypt.

Several Palestinian media outlets had reported that the Egyptian military on Sunday flooded the border area between the Egyptian city of Rafah and the beseiged Gaza Strip, demolishing a number of old tunnels.

"After the four young men entered the tunnel, we heard one of them yelling: 'water, water' before his voice was completely gone," an eyewitness told al-Hadath news website.

"Three people headed to the tunnel to see what was happening, but they quickly ran in the other direction after seeing the water gushing towards the Palestinian side of the tunnel."

The eyewitness, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the young men’s families and friends were overwhelmed by confusion and grief over their loss.

An Israeli blockade severely restricts the movement of people and goods into and out of the territory, and Egypt's sole border with Gaza has also remained largely closed since the toppling of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

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In addition to creating a 10-kilometre-long buffer zone between Rafah and Gaza, Egypt says it has flooded hundreds of tunnels in the border area in the past three years.

The tunnels have long been used to smuggle people and much-needed goods in and out of the enclave of some two million inhabitants.

Despite Egypt's systematic attempts to destroy the tunnels in Gaza, many Palestinians have continued to carry out increasingly perilous work underground.

Since January, more than a dozen Gazans have been killed in separate tunnel collapses.