Anger boils over following deadly building collapse

World | 9 Nov 2018

A sixth body has been found in the rubble 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 poorest.

Up to eight people are feared to have been killed when the buildings crumbled in a matter of seconds in Noailles, a working-class district in the heart of the Mediterranean port city.

Several other buildings in the narrow street have been evacuated, amid fears of further collapse as "all the buildings lean against each other" on the sloping street, a firefighter said.

Marseille prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux told a news conference that a person living in one of the collapsed buildings phoned firefighters the night before Monday's cave-in to say "that one of the cracks in her flat had widened."

She later called back to say "there wasn't any need to come round," he added.

Firefighters had ordered 105 residents to leave the building, but later escorted small groups back inside to fetch some belongings.

"It brings back my memories of the war, when I was a child," said Yoanna, a 27-year-old Lebanese woman.

"I've never had to leave an apartment so quickly."

After searching the rubble for a second night, rescuers retrieved the bodies of four men and two women, Tarabeux told media earlier.

"We're working hard, so there's still hope," a rescue worker said, as his team continued to search the wreckage with sniffer dogs.

But Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had already warned that there was "little chance of finding air pockets" in the rubble. It was too early to say what caused the collapse, Tarabeux said.

Residents say structural problems were widely known, but city officials did little when alerted about them.

Anger simmered among the hundred or so residents and activists who gathered near the scene, with some of them slamming Marseille's mayor and his housing secretary as "killers."

A few dozen people held a moment of silence for the victims.

Adama, originally from Africa's Comoro Islands, said: "It's only blacks and Arabs living here, so nobody cares."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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