Another court order of renovation was issued but was not applied either, he said.

Such incidents are relatively frequent in Egypt where building regulations are often flouted and floors are added without permission.

Witness account

Samih Nazmi, a 28-year-old store owner who lived on the ground floor with his parents, said the building made a sound like an exploding gas cylinder when it collapsed.

"Luckily, the ground floor was mostly intact. My parents and I climbed out through a gap into the neighbouring house," he told the Reuters news agency at the scene of the collapse.

Residents said they had complained to local authorities that the building was unsafe and authorities had ordered the removal of the extra floors and other structural changes.

However, the orders were not implemented. 

Municipalities blamed

Saleh Subhi, a member from the opposition Muslim Brotherhood who was at the scene, blamed municipal authorities.

"It was not in keeping with housing regulations. This is the third building to collapse in the district. The municipality cannot be exonerated," Subhi said.

Municipal officials were not immediately available to comment.

In other accidents in Alexandria, at least 35 people were killed in December when a 12-storey building collapsed.

In 2005, the collapse of a six-storey building killed 19 people after three stories had were added illegally.

Tougher legislation against construction companies which ignore the law was introduced in 1996 after a building collapsed in Egypt's capital, killing more than 60 people.