Bodies Found After Apartment Buildings Collapse In Marseille, France

Two buildings collapsed suddenly not far from Marseille city centre

The death toll has risen to five in the collapse of two dilapidated apartment buildings in the southern French city of Marseille, with the pre-dawn discovery of a man's body.

The two buildings, one apparently vacant and the other housing apartments, collapsed Monday at 9 a.m. local time.

He said that the chance of finding survivors was diminishing the longer the search continued, especially as the controlled collapse of a third building - which had been weakened by the initial disaster - had laid more rubble over the site.

As the political row grew, the interior minister, Christophe Castaner, announced he had ordered a building-by-building audit in Marseilles before launching what he called an "ambitious programme" to ensure safer conditions.

"We still have hope, even if that hope is fading".

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The news service reports that nine of that building's 10 units were occupied, with a shop filling the lower level.

Google Maps images taken in recent months showed the two collapsed buildings, in the working-class neighbourhood of Noailles, had had large visible cracks in their facades.

Emergency crews were searching for as many as eight people feared buried in the debris, Marseille public prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux added on Tuesday.

A young bar waiter, with tears in his eyes, watched the scene and anxious about an Italian woman who lived in the building. "It could have been me", she said.

One of the fallen buildings was boarded-up, but possibly used by squatters, CNN reported.

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Abdou Ali, 34, came in search of his mother after she did not come to collect her youngest son from school on Monday afternoon.

Sophie Dorbeaux, who lived in the now-demolished 65 rue d'Aubagne, meanwhile told AFP she had left on Sunday night to stay with her parents because "for days, the doors of some of the apartments wouldn't close".

"The walls had been moving for several weeks and cracks had appeared", the 25-year-old philosophy student said.

Rescue work has been hampered by heavy rain, and evidence suggests the collapse has destabilised neighbouring buildings.

The buildings were in a small shopping street in the centre of the city.

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But a 2015 government report said about 100,000 Marseille residents were living in housing that was unsafe to their health or security.

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