Six bodies have already been found under the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Marseille, and dozens of buildings have been evacuated

A search is on for possible survivors in the rubble.AFP photo

The four-storey building collapsed in the center of Marseille overnight from Saturday to Sunday. At least five people from nearby buildings were injured. Fearing further damage to the nearby lands, more than two hundred residents were evacuated from the immediate vicinity of the collapsed flat and housed in a school and hotels, among other places. They reside in more than forty buildings, according to local French media.

After the first two bodies were found under the rubble on Sunday, the mayor of Marseille stated that there may still be people alive under the rubble, but that more victims must also be taken into account. In total, the bodies of six residents were recovered from the rubble. DNA analyzes are being performed to identify the victims. Firefighters continue to search the rubble for the last two people missing.

“All teams continue to work and are determined to find survivors,” Mayor Benoit Bayan wrote on Twitter Sunday evening. However, the chance of this happening becomes very slim after 24 hours.

The cause of the explosion is still not clear. CCTV footage shows that the explosion was very powerful. A gas leak was initially suspected, but this has not yet been confirmed. Neighbors say they smelled a strong smell of gas. The French police sent specialized police investigators from the Paris region to Marseille to determine the cause of the explosion.

Bad maintenance

In the past 40 years, apartment complexes have frequently collapsed in Marseille. In November 2018, two buildings collapsed, killing eight people. The reason for this at the time could have been the poor maintenance of the buildings.

On January 11, 1981, 8 people were killed and 16 injured in the Canet neighborhood when an apartment building collapsed. In 1985, 5 people were killed in a building explosion, and on July 20, 1996, 4 were killed and 26 injured in an explosion in a seven-storey building near Central Station.

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