8 missing after building collapses in Marseille, France | news

Residents are believed to be buried under the rubble as firefighters continue to douse the flames following the blast.

Eight people did not respond to calls and were trapped under the rubble of two buildings that collapsed in the explosion near the port of the southern French city of Marseille, local authorities said.

More than 100 firefighters worked against the clock to put out the blaze inside the wreckage of the five-story building, but after more than 17 hours “the situation is still not stable,” Marseille prosecutor Dominique Lawrence told a news conference Sunday evening. .

The collapse sparked a fire that has complicated rescue efforts and investigations, and has not been brought under control, he told a press conference.

Police have not yet confirmed the disappearance of a ninth person who lived in a neighboring building, Lawrence said. Five people suffered minor injuries in the collapse, which occurred just before 1 a.m. (22:00 GMT).

The cause of the explosion is still unknown, Lawrence said.

Television footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the wreckage as firefighters tried to put out the blaze, while trained dogs tried to find victims.

“We have nothing, not even an identity card. We have lost everything,” said a man who gave his name only as Roland in an interview with local newspaper La Provence.

He left the building at 15 Rue de Tivoli with his wife and two children before it collapsed with the neighboring building. A third building partially collapsed.

Interior Minister Gerald Dormanin, who visited the site, said 30 buildings in the area had been evacuated.

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Marseille Mayor Benoit Payon said two buildings that shared a wall with the collapsed buildings were partially leveled. Among the evacuees were buildings.

The site of the blast is located in Marseille, France [Orianne Ciantar Olive/EPA-EFE]

Drones and probes have been used to scan the scene for signs of life. The burning debris was too hot for firefighters’ dog teams to work on as of Sunday afternoon, although the smoke still bothered them, the attorney said.

“We cannot intervene in a very noble way,” said Dharman during a morning visit to the site. He said the fire was burning a few meters beneath the piles of debris, and that both water and foam represented a danger to the victims’ survival.

An investigation has been opened for self-inflicted injury, at least initially ruling out possible criminal intent. Attorney Lawrence said there was a gas explosion on the tracks to test. But the start of the study was also limited by the heat of the fire.

Firefighters, assisted by urban rescue specialists, worked through the night and into Sunday in a slow race against time. This delicate operation has already partially collapsed to keep firefighters safe, prevent further harm to people trapped in the rubble and not compromise nearby vulnerable buildings.

Lawrence, the attorney, said the firefighters were “in a really complicated situation, dangerous for them.” The work is going on with safety precautions, he said.

“We heard an explosion … a really strong explosion that made us jump and that’s it,” said Mary Siret, one of the evacuees. “We looked out the window to see what was happening. We saw smoke, stones and people running.

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The collapsed building, located on a narrow street less than a kilometer (half a mile) from Marseille’s Old Port, added to the difficulties for firefighters and rescue workers.

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