Third body found at site of French building collapse

Explosion at a residential building in Reims causes complex to collapse

French rescuers search the debris of a collapsed residential building in Reims, today. Part of a five-storey residential building collapsed in the centre of the northeastern French city of Reims on Sunday, killing two people and injuring at least 10, officials said. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

French rescuers search the debris of a collapsed residential building in Reims, today. Part of a five-storey residential building collapsed in the centre of the northeastern French city of Reims on Sunday, killing two people and injuring at least 10, officials said. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Sun, Apr 28, 2013, 20:27

An explosion ripped off the side of a five-storey residential building in France’s Champagne country today, killing three people and injuring nine others, officials said.

More than 100 rescue workers, firefighters, sniffer-dog squads and bomb and gas experts were deployed to the gutted building in a subsidised housing complex in the city of Reims, east of Paris, officials said.

Early pictures on the website of a local newspaper, L’Union L’Ardennais, showed heaps of debris spilling out of the building onto a grassy esplanade below, with two helmeted people perched up on a crane for a look inside. Authorities initially said two people died in the collapse but a third body was located this evening.

Reims mayor Adeline Hazan told France’s BFM television that “a very powerful explosion” had taken place, blowing out windows of nearby buildings.

The collapse may have been caused by a gas explosion, regional official Michel Bernard told BFM-TV. The death toll was not likely to rise as the injured people were not at risk and there were no residents unaccounted for, an official at the region’s emergency centre said. Around 10 of the 40 apartments in the 1960s-era building were affected by the collapse.

Agencies