3 dead in Marseille collapsed buildings

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The buildings collapsed on Monday morning, and emergency services have been combing through the rubble.

As many as eight people were feared dead Tuesday after two dilapidated apartment blocks collapsed in the southern French city of Marseille, where a first body was pulled out of the wreckage.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said air pockets under the debris meant there was hope of finding someone who could be saved.

Image of buildings on Google Street View before they collapsed, showed that one had five stories and the other six.

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

A spokesman for the Marseille Firefighters told The Associated Press Tuesday that a female body had been recovered from the debris of the buildings, which collapsed a day ago.

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Local media reports said at least two passers-by were injured in the accident. The buildings suddenly collapsed on Monday morning.

One of them had been condemned and, with its windows boarded up, was well-secured and in theory unoccupied, officials said.

At number 65 rue d'Augagne, nine of the ten apartments were full.

A young bar waiter, with tears in his eyes, watched the scene and anxious about an Italian woman who lived in the building.

Fire officials deliberately brought down most of a third building due to concerns the unstable structure might cave on top of search crews and sniffer dogs combing the rubble of the other buildings.

But the incident - rare in a major Western city - has already sparked a political row over the quality of housing available to Marseille's poorest residents. In 2011 the local authorities began a plan to renovate the city centre, but a 2015 government report suggested that 100,000 Marseille residents were living in housing risky to their health or security.

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