Up to eight feared dead in France after Marseille building collapse

Frederick Owens
November 9, 2018

Three bodies have been pulled out of the rubble of several buildings that collapsed on Monday in the French city of Marseille, according to fire officials.

Rescuers worked throughout the night looking for victims in the rubble of two buildings which collapsed suddenly on Monday morning in Noailles, a working-class district in the heart of the Mediterranean port city.

Marseille city council has evacuated and rehoused 100 residents from neighbouring buildings and says heavy rain may have contributed to the collapse.

The two on either side were in such a bad state that they had been declared off limits and boarded up.

Images taken before the collapse show large cracks in the facade of number 63; a former resident, retired college lecturer Mark Mason, told the Guardian he had been forced to sell his flat in the building to the council in 2012 under a compulsory purchase order after the first storey floor collapsed and chunks of masonry began falling from the building.

Christophe Castaner, Minister of the Interior, said: "There is very little chance of finding pockets of life [now]".

One of those thought dead includes a mother who did not collect her daughter from school on the day of the incident, and another woman who rarely left her apartment.

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More than 120 rescue workers are involved in the operation to clear the debris, forming a human chain on Tuesday to remove it stone by stone.

"I haven't had any news", he said, wandering among the rescuers.

"It could have been me", the 25-year-old philosophy student said, visibly shaken.

The two buildings, one apparently vacant and the other housing apartments, collapsed Monday at 9 a.m. local time.

The neighbourhood is home to many buildings in a similarly dilapidated condition, some of them run by slum landlords.

Marseille authorities launched a vast upgrade plan for the city centre in 2011.

Djaffar Nour, who was shopping down the street, said the collapse had happened in "a matter of seconds".

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