Rescuers have found a second body in the rubble of two buildings that collapsed in Marseille. The buildings – one condemned and apparently vacant, the other containing apartments – collapsed at about 9am on Monday.
The death toll is likely to increase as between five and eight people are missing, French interior minister Christophe Castaner said. A man’s body was pulled from the rubble on Tuesday morning and several hours later rescuers found a woman’s body.
Fire services said two people who were in the street when the buildings collapsed were treated for minor injuries. Fire officials deliberately brought down most of a third building due to concerns the unstable structure might cave on top of search crews and sniffer dogs combing the rubble of the other buildings.
French rescue workers were searching into the night Monday for possible victims under the wreckage of two dilapidated buildings that suddenly collapsed in the centre of Marseille. France 24
French President Emmanuel Macron said Marseille had “the solidarity of the nation” as rescuers worked into the darkness.
The incident — rare in a major Western city — has already sparked a political row over the quality of housing available to Marseille’s poorest residents.
The neighbourhood is home to many buildings in a similarly poor condition, some of them run by slum landlords.
“It’s the homes of the poor that are falling down, and that’s not a coincidence,” said local lawmaker Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the left-wing France Unbowed party.
Marseille authorities launched a vast upgrade plan for the city centre in 2011.
But a 2015 government report said some 100,000 Marseille residents were living in housing that was dangerous for their health or security.