(Marseille) A fifth body was found Monday under the rubble of the building collapsed the day before in Marseille, in the south of France, where the relief workers are trying in difficult conditions to find three other missing people.
Earlier in the day, two other bodies had already been extracted from the rubble of the building – in the heart of the second French city – which housed five apartments and collapsed after a huge explosion. Two bodies were also found overnight.
Three people remain missing.
“Until the end, we will still believe in the ability” to find people alive under the rubble, “even if the chances are dwindling hour by hour, of course,” said Yannick Ohanessian, deputy mayor for Security .
A hundred rescuers, helped by dogs, drones and thermal probes, are working tirelessly, with a fire smoldering under the rubble, to try to find the buried people.
Against the fire, the work is difficult: “It’s a hearth buried deep, difficult to reach with the lances”, explains the sailor-firefighter Adrien Schaller. “And you shouldn’t overwater, to avoid creating a kind of mud,” he continues. “We are of course hoping to find pockets of survival, it’s a race against time.”
“The fire did not rage in all parts, there is hope that there are people still alive,” also said the commander of the Marseille firefighters, Vice-Admiral Lionel Mathieu.
“Given the particular difficulties of intervention, the extraction [of the bodies from the site] will take time”, specified the rescuers who work hard day and night.
The public prosecutor of Marseille Dominique Laurens had indicated Sunday evening that among the missing, there were “people of a certain age and a young couple in their thirties”. There would be no children or minors, according to her.
In a city marked in recent weeks by the proliferation of fatal shootings linked to drug trafficking which have claimed the lives of several young people from working-class neighborhoods, the collapse of the building, located in a residential area, close to streets with very lively cafes and restaurants , caused a new shock.
“I share the anguish of the families and loved ones and I salute the efforts and perseverance of all the rescuers”, wrote in a message to the inhabitants the cardinal of Marseille Jean-Marc Aveline.
About 200 people, including families, had to be evacuated from surrounding buildings as a precaution, and solidarity was organized. Associations of parents of students in the neighborhood and residents have mobilized to offer them accommodation, clothing and psychological help.
The town hall has organized accommodation and a family reception center, with psychological assistance, for relatives of missing persons, has been opened.
The investigation is continuing to determine the causes of the explosion. Gas is obviously part of the tracks, according to the authorities.
“We quickly smelled a strong smell of gas, which remained and we smelled it again this morning,” Savera Mosnier, a resident of a nearby street, told AFP.
Even if Sunday’s tragedy awakened the images of a previous deadly collapse (eight dead) of two buildings, these unsanitary ones, in November 2018, rue d’Aubagne, in another district of central Marseille, the situation is quite different. Rue de Tivoli, “these are not unsanitary buildings at all”, underlined mayor, prosecutor and prefect.