June 23. 2024. 2:10

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Eight people missing as explosion blows down building in Marseille

Two bodies have been found and six people remain unaccounted for at the time of writing after a building collapsed in Marseille early on Sunday following an explosion likely caused by a gas leak.

As it fell, the building destabilised the two adjoining buildings, one of which also collapsed a few hours later.

While the 199 residents of 33 buildings adjacent to the incident have been evacuated and accommodated in a gymnasium and two schools, around 100 firefighters are continuing the search.

As for the cause of the accident, it is presumed to be an accidental gas leak, as several witnesses said they noticed a smell before the explosion.

The dilapidated state of the building has been ruled out as a possible cause even though the solidity of buildings is a cause for concern among many people in France’s second most populous city.

While ten people died in 2018 following the collapse of a building deemed unsafe, 13% of the “main residences” in the city were considered “unfit” for the health and safety of the inhabitants in 2015, according to the so-called Nicol report.

Even after the collapse of 2018, the situation does not seem to have improved, as the local head of the Abbé Pierre Foundation, which specialises in housing aid, told AFP in February 2022.

Meanwhile, elected officials across the political spectrum expressed their condolences to the victims and support for the firemen.

“I am thinking of the people affected and their families. The search is continuing with major resources deployed. Thank you to the firefighters and rescue workers who have been mobilised,” said President Emmanuel Macron.

Urban Affairs and Housing Minister Olivier Klein assured that he would go to the site “as soon as [his] presence is useful to the inhabitants”.

(Paul Messad | EURACTIV.fr)