CAIRO, Oct 2 (AFP) - A huge fire broke out at a police headquarters in the Egyptian city of Ismailia on Monday, injuring at least 38 people before it was put out, according to the health ministry.

No fatalities were immediately reported but the building was fully staffed with policemen when the fire broke out before dawn.

By the time the first rescue services arrived, the blaze had engulfed the entire building of the Ismailia Security Directorate.

Flames raged through the multi-storey building that was completely obscured by a massive cloud of smoke before the blaze was brought under control.

By dawn, all that remained of the headquarters was a charred shell as emergency services carried out cooling procedures to prevent another fire from breaking out.

On social media, users shared footage of the fire which showed individuals trapped inside, calling for help from the windows.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known and security forces have sealed off the area, where AFP correspondents saw rescuers attempting to evacuate those trapped inside, assisted by a crane.

Authorities have not made statements on how many policemen and detainees were inside the building overnight.

Of 26 wounded who were transferred to a local hospital, 24 had suffered from "asphyxiation" and two from burns, the health ministry reported.

Twelve more were treated at the scene.

The health ministry deployed 50 ambulances to the scene, which were joined by military emergency services including two planes, according to local media.

Deadly blazes are a common hazard in Egypt, where fire codes are rarely enforced and emergency services are often slow to arrive.

In August 2022, a fire caused by a short circuit killed 41 worshippers in a Cairo church, prompting calls to improve the country's infrastructure and the response time of the fire brigade.

In March 2021, at least 20 people died in a fire at a textile factory in the capital, while in 2020, two hospital fires killed 14 people.

Photo from AFP