Marseille: Four bodies discovered after an explosion destroyed a building
Four bodies were discovered after an explosion destroyed a four-story apartment building in Marseille, France.
Four others were still missing, according to local authorities, and rescue efforts were ongoing.
The explosion occurred at 00:49 a.m. local time on Sunday in the La Plaine neighborhood (23:49 BST on Saturday).
Although the cause is unknown, investigators are looking into the possibility of a gas leak.
Housing minister Oliver Klein called the discovery of the bodies “gruesome, difficult, and dramatic,” and told reporters that the government would assist the victims’ families.
Five people from nearby buildings were injured in the explosion, and around 200 people were forced to flee their homes.
A few hours later, two nearby buildings partially collapsed, but no injuries were reported.
The mayor of Marseille, Benoit Payan, warned on Monday that there was still a risk that nearby buildings would collapse.
A total of 100 firefighters responded to the scene to put out a blaze that had been burning beneath the rubble all day Sunday.
The fire slowed progress and made it difficult for rescuers to deploy sniffer dogs, though authorities said on Sunday evening that the blaze was fading.
The building is thought to have had one apartment on each floor, and city officials previously stated that the missing included a “young couple.”
With the assistance of a crane and lights, rescue operations continued into the early hours of Monday.
The fire department stated in a brief statement announcing the discovery of the bodies that “given the difficulties of intervention, the extraction [of the bodies from the site] will take time.”
To accommodate the people who have had to leave their homes, a local gymnasium and two schools have been opened. Psychological assistance is also available.