Gas explosion in Sicily leaves at least three dead, six missing

Two apartment blocks destroyed and several other buildings partially collapsed in blast

It was reported on Saturday night that the building was on fire after a natural gas pipe exploded in the town of 11,000 near Agrigento. Map: Datawrappe

Rescuers plan to work through the night in the Sicilian town of Ravanusa to try to find survivors of a suspected gas explosion that killed at least three people.

Two people were found alive under the rubble and six were missing, authorities said on Sunday.

“We have two great friends still under there, we are praying to God that they pull them out okay,” local resident Lillo Cavallaro told Reuters.

The remains of the four-storey apartment building which collapsed following a gas explosion in Ravanusa, Sicily on Saturday. Photograph: Vigili Del Fuoco/Vigili del Fuoco/AFP via Getty

In the explosion late on Saturday, four houses collapsed and another three were damaged, authorities said, adding the blast was likely triggered by a gas leak from the town’s pipes, although an investigation was underway to ascertain the cause.

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Gas grid operator Italgas expressed its sorrow and condolences to people in Ravanusa. It said its emergency service had received no reports of gas leaks last week.

“The Ravanusa distribution network was fully inspected in both 2020 and 2021,” said the company, adding that there were no construction sites on the section of pipeline affected.

Local residents in the town of 11,000 people watched on Sunday as firefighters and civil-protection rescuers tried to locate survivors.

“It is a small town and everyone knows each other,” said 69 year-old pensioner Arcangelo D’Angelo, adding he knew the missing people. “What we are living through here is an unimaginable drama and we have no words.”

Ravanusa is near the southwestern Sicilian city of Agrigento, which is famous for its Greek temples. Three people were killed and six are still missing after a gas explosion late on Saturday caused several residential buildings in the Sicilian town of Ravanusa to collapse, Italian authorities said on Sunday.

Two apartment blocks in the town of 11,000 people were completely destroyed and several other buildings had partially collapsed in the blast.

Firemen were still searching the site for survivors.

Two people were found alive under the rubble and six people were missing, the captain of the local fire brigade, Giuseppe Merendino, said on Sunday.

A spokesman for Italy’s Civil Protection said three people had been killed. Earlier the disaster agency had said four people were killed in the blast.

A priest who was celebrating mass nearby on Saturday evening said he heard a loud roar and saw flames rising from a group of houses.

“It is a huge tragedy... Let’s pray to ask God to avoid more deaths,” said the priest, Filippo Barbera. – Reuters