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Building in Marseille collapses leaving eight people unaccounted for

An explosion leveled an apartment building in Marseille, southern France, injuring five people and leaving eight people missing. 

The cause of the explosion is unknown at this time. The building was destroyed shortly after midnight on Sunday, while a nearby block of apartments partially collapsed a few hours later. 

The mayor of the city, Benoit Payan, stated that individuals were most likely killed. 

Over 200 individuals were evacuated from surrounding structures. 

More than 100 firefighters were dispatched to put out the fires caused by the explosion. The fire lasted for the majority of Sunday, and authorities warned that it may burn for hours – but it appeared to be dying down by Sunday evening. 

The fire hampered the hunt for the missing people, who were described as a “young couple” and “people of a particular age” by city prosecutors. 

The high heat and dust have made it impossible for search dogs to sift through the rubble. 

Mr Payan stated that “we must be prepared to have victims,” and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who visited the city on Sunday, told the media that he did not know if the missing were alive or dead. 

District prosecutor Dominique Laurens acknowledged to reporters that eight persons “were not answering to phone calls,” adding that determining the cause of the fall was currently impossible. 

Authorities, on the other hand, have predicted a gas leak. 

‘I’ve never heard anything like it.’ 

According to one resident, they heard an explosion “unlike anything I’ve ever heard.” 

Several reported hearing the ground shake and smelling gas in the air. 

“There was no danger alert for this structure, and it is not in a neighborhood recognized as having substandard housing,” said Christophe Mirmand, a local authority official in the Bouches-du-Rhone region. 

Eight people were killed when two buildings fell in rue d’Aubagne, near Marseille’s old harbor, in 2018. The disaster brought to light the city’s long-standing housing issue and startled France. 

Mr Payan stated on Sunday that this weekend’s incident was not caused by structural issues in buildings and hence had “nothing to do with rue d’Aubagne.”

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