Four bodies have been found after an explosion demolished a four-story apartment building in Marseille, France. Local authorities on the scene stated that four other individuals remain unaccounted for as rescue efforts are ongoing, according to reports from BBC.
The cause of the explosion, which occurred early Sunday morning, is still unclear. Authorities and investigators are currently looking into a potential gas leak that may have caused the explosion.
Oliver Klein, the housing minister, stated that the government will be supporting the victims’ families, and the discovery of the bodies was “gruesome, difficult and dramatic”.
Around 200 people were evacuated from their homes while five individuals from adjacent buildings sustained minor injuries due to the explosion.
Benoit Payan, the mayor of Marseille, told reporters Monday morning that there is still a risk that nearby buildings could collapse as over 100 firefighters attended to the blaze and damage caused by the explosion.
Of the four individuals unaccounted for, two are a “young couple” who are believed to live in an apartment in the building; each floor of the building is said to house one apartment. The fire department stated that “given the difficulties of intervention, the extraction [of the bodies from the site] will take time.”
Psychological support has been offered to individuals related to the explosion while a local gym and two schools have been opened up to accommodate anyone who has been displaced.
French President Emmanuel Macron stated he was “thinking of those affected and their loved ones, [we thank] the emergency workers for their efforts.”
Mayor Benoît Payan said “rescuers remain determined to find people alive. Hope must hold us.”
Saveria Mosnier, who lives nearby, told local reporters: “I was sleeping and there was this huge blast that really shook the room. I was shocked awake as if I had been dreaming. We very quickly smelled a strong gas odor that hung around. We could still smell it this morning”.
Deputy Mayor Yannick Ohanessian told reporters that “several witnesses have reached us this morning to say there was a suspicious smell of gas.”
Rescue and rehabilitation efforts are still under way as the investigation into the reasoning behind this tragedy are continued to be analyzed.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.