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Three killed in French building collapse


Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-04-29

At least three people were killed and 14 others injured after part of a four-storey residential building collapsed in the northeastern French city of Reims on Sunday. Local authorities said the accident was likely caused by a gas explosion.

At least three people were killed and 14 others left injured in the centre of France’s northeastern city of Reims on Sunday morning after a large apartment block collapsed following a likely gas explosion.

Firefighters called to the scene searched for victims trapped in the rubble of the council estate building, where around 10 apartments were believed to have been destroyed in the collapse.

Local authorities said the "probable" cause of the accident at the four-storey structure in the heart of the Champagne region was a gas explosion..

Following the accident, the Elysée issued a statement calling the collapse a “terrible tragedy,” and extending President François Hollande’s condolences to the victims’ families.

An AFP photographer at the scene – citing rescue workers – said many firefighters were still looking for victims buried under the wreckage. The residential building, which was constructed during the 1960s, had last been renovated several years ago.

The incident in Reims is the second such accident to occur in the region over the past month. At the beginning of April, four people from the same family were killed and another person was seriously injured when a gas explosion devastated their apartment in Witry-les-Reims, not far from the scene of Sunday's accident.

The tragedy shocked the neighbourhood, particularly as the father had still been alive when firefighters arrived, talking to them for over two hours to try to help them locate his wife and child, before dying in the ambulance.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-04-28