A French building collapsed after a suspected gas explosion, killing three people and injuring 14 more. The explosion ripped off the side of the five-story building in France’s Champagne country.
Debris spilled out of the building onto a grassy field below as more than 100 rescue workers, firefighters, sniffer-dog squads, and bomb and gas experts worked to discover what happened and rescue the injured.
The building collapse happened in the city of Reims, east of Paris. The office of French President Francois Hollande released a statement conveying condolences to the families of those killed. The statement added, “The explosion of a residential building in Reims is a terrible drama.”
The initial death toll was at two until crews searching for survivors uncovered the body of a woman under the rubble on Sunday afternoon. Michel Bernard, Reims’ top government official, added that the death toll is unlikely to change.
The building that collapsed after an explosion has been described as social housing. The building dates back to the 1960s. While it was renovated several years ago, residents stated that no changes were made to the interior structure.
Housing Minister Cecile Duflot promised a full inquiry into what caused the French building to collapse. She added, “It appears the building was well maintained. All the necessary checks were carried out on the appliances.” Mayor Adeline Hazan stated that the explosion at the building was likely caused by a gas leak.
Hazan added that the blast, which occurred at 11:15 am local time, was so strong that it shattered windows in nearby buildings. Two bodies were recovered early in the morning, and then the woman’s body was recovered later in the afternoon. By Sunday evening, only two residents were still thought to be missing.
Ten flats were thought to be affected by the building collapse. The cause has yet to be determined.
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