The body of a sixth victim was discovered Wednesday morning in the rubble of several buildings that collapsed on Monday in the center of Marseille in southern France, said the city’s prosecutor, Xavier Tarabeux. The rescue services had already recovered five more bodies from the ruins since the three buildings collapsed on Monday.
Authorities fear that two other people, who have not shown signs of life since the catastrophe may still be buried under the rubble. “We are working hard, so there is still hope,” a rescue worker said at dawn as his team continued to search for more potential victims with the help of sniffer dogs.
But Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned on Monday night that there is ” little chance of finding air pockets ” under the rubble. Images from Google Maps taken in recent months showed that the two collapsed buildings had large cracks visible in their facades.
A third adjacent building collapsed partially a few hours later, dragged by the first two, Only one of them was occupied, while the other two had been bricked for security reasons.
The judicial police, which opened an investigation, must determine the origin of the disaster. Residents say that the structural problems of some buildings on this narrow street in the heart of the Mediterranean city were widely known, but that local officials did not take the necessary measures when they were alerted.
“Everyone knew the situation of the two buildings,” said Patrick Lacoste, a spokesman for a local housing action group, who deplored the “senseless” death of six people. Castaner announced on Tuesday in the National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament of France, which had ordered an audit of the buildings in Marseille, especially the most dilapidated. “Nearly 6,000 properties have been identified as fragile” in the city, he said, representing some 44,000 homes especially in the poorest neighborhoods.