3 dead in Marseille collapsed buildings

3 dead in Marseille collapsed buildings

The body of a man has been found in the wreckage of two buildings that collapsed in the French city of Marseille on Monday, interior minister Christophe Castaner said.

Rescuers worked throughout the night to look for victims in the rubble of two dilapidated blocks of flats which collapsed suddenly on Monday morning not far from the centre of the Mediterranean port city.

Of the three buildings that collapsed, two had already been condemned and were uninhabited, but questions are being asked about why the third had not yet been renovated, repaired, or evacuated.

A completely flattened vehicle was dug out as rescuers worked to shift the rubble, an indication of the force with which the building came crashing down in what witnesses said was a matter of seconds.

The dead include two women and three men, prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux told AFP. "There could still be air pockets", a senior rescue official said.

Google Maps images taken in recent months showed large cracks in the facades of the buildings, only one of which was occupied.

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One of the buildings was apparently vacant and the other housed apartments.

"The most important is saving lives", Castaner added from the scene. "It could have been me", she said.

Residents say that structural problems with the buildings on the narrow shopping street were widely known, but that city officials did little when alerted about them.

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

However, according to neighbors, it is at the time of the tragedy could be people, particularly the homeless.

"It's the homes of the poor that are falling down, and that's not a coincidence", said local lawmaker Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the leftwing France Unbowed party. A 2015 report by the government found that 100,000 residents of Marseille "were living in housing that was risky to their health or security", according to AFP.

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