Marseille (AP) – At least two people were slightly injured in the collapse of two dilapidated houses in the center of Marseille. Fatalities are feared. On Monday was searched in vain for possibly buried.
Housing Minister Julien Denormandie spoke to the press about a "race against time". As reported by several media, forces on Monday night destroyed a third building, which also threatened to collapse. Investigators examine how it could come to the disaster.
The president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, Renaud Muselier, said in the evening that seven residents were missing. In addition, there are two passers-by, who were filmed immediately before the accident by a video camera on the street and could potentially be affected, said Muselier the news channel BFMTV.
The two houses collapsed on Monday morning in the southern French port city. The two injured were passers-by. Dozens of residents of adjacent flats were brought to safety. The collapsed houses stood in a small shopping street in the center of the city. One of the houses was empty, according to the authorities, because it was dilapidated. According to Minister Denormandie, around ten people lived in the other building, which was also under construction. "These are the people we are looking for now," the minister continued.
"What counts is that we find as few casualties as possible," said Mayor of Marseille, Jean-Claude Gaudin, according to several media sources. However, he assumes that you will find dead. The search for possible victims is to be continued throughout the night.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday evening to those affected his "compassion and the solidarity of the nation" from. "Marseille has suffered and is still suffering," the president said in a speech in Pont-à-Mousson, according to French news agency AFP.
On pictures and videos of the accident, only rubble and debris were seen. In the narrow alley were scree mountains. Dozens of rescue teams searched dogs for possible victims. Photos on Google Maps showed that the two houses had large cracks on the facades. "This dramatic accident could be due to the heavy rains that have fallen in recent days in Marseilles," it said of the city.
Several opposition representatives complained about the city's housing policy. "It is the homes of the poor that are collapsing – and this is no coincidence," said the leading left-wing politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon, according to several media. Mélenchon has his constituency in Marseilles and traveled to the scene on Monday.
Eyewitnesses reported that at the time of the collapse, people were in one of the buildings, according to AFP. "I live next door and when I watched TV, I heard a loud noise but no explosion, then there was a cloud of smoke," said a neighbor AFP. The owner of an apartment in one of the collapsed houses said that this week, work on the 200-year-old house had been planned.