Egyptians stand in rubble after an eight story building collapsed in Alexandria, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. It was not immediately known what caused the building to collapse, but violations of building specifications have been blamed in the past for similar accidents. (AP Photo)

Cairo - At least 36 people were feared dead after the collapse of an apartment building Wednesday in Egypt's coastal city of Alexandria, medical and security officials said.

Seventeen bodies had been removed from the eight-storey building and it was suspected that 19 remained under the rubble, they added.

State-run newspaper al-Ahram quoted local officials and residents as saying that the building was only five years old, and had been constructed without a building permit.

Civil defence workers evacuated several families from two neighbouring buildings that were observed to be listing, al-Ahram reported online.

Egypt has suffered several such accidents in recent years, mostly blamed on building code violations as well as degraded older housing stock.

In 2008, a rockslide buried a shanty town at the foot of a cliff in Cairo, killing more than 100 people. - Sapa-dpa