Search continues as death toll rises to six in Marseille flats collapse


Rescuers on Thursday resumed a search of rubble in which six corpses have been found after the collapse on Monday of two dilapidated apartment blocks in the southern French port city of Marseille, following an overnight pause to demolish neighbouring buildings that threatened to tumble in turn.

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A sixth body was found Wednesday in the wreckage of two dilapidated buildings that collapsed in the French city of Marseille, where furious residents have accused authorities of ignoring warnings about the state of housing for the underprivileged, reports FRANCE 24.

Rescuers worked throughout the night searching for survivors in the wake of the deadly collapse on Monday morning of the two dilapidated apartment blocks not far from the centre of the Mediterranean port city.

A third adjoining building also partially collapsed on Monday night.

Prosecutors said the bodies were found separately under the 15-metre (50-foot) pile of rubble on Rue d'Aubagne, a narrow shopping street which now resembles the scene of an earthquake.

The two other apartment blocks, which were in such a bad state that they had been condemned, were boarded up and in theory unoccupied.

Google Maps images taken in recent months showed the collapsed buildings had large visible cracks in their facades.

People had been living in nine of the 10 apartments at number 65, while a shop occupied the ground floor.

Anger is mounting among residents of the Mediterranean port city, with more feared dead.

Residents said Tuesday that the structural risks of the buildings and others like them were widely known, but that city officials did little when alerted.

"Everybody knew about the problems with the two collapsed buildings," said Patrick Lacoste, a spokesman for a local housing action group.

"People died for nothing, even though we knew."

"It's hell here, they know it that it's crap and now people die for nothing," said local resident Toufik Ben Rhouma. The disaster, he added, was "100 percent the fault of city hall".

“It’s unthinkable that such things happen in our time,” said Christian Gouverneur, who lives in a flat just across the road from the tragic site.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner told lawmakers in Paris that he had ordered a "building by building" audit before an "ambitious programme for ensuring safe conditions" along with Marseille authorities.

"Nearly 6,000 properties have been identified as at risk" in the city, he said, representing some 44,000 lodgings in lower-class neighbourhoods, calling the situation "unacceptable".

A young bar waiter watched the scene with tears in his eyes, anxious for news of an Italian woman who lived in the building.

"She was a great girl, she used to come and study at the bar," he said, without giving his name.

Abdou Ali, 34, came in search of his mother after she did not come to collect her youngest son from school on Monday afternoon.

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

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.



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