Body found in rubble of collapsed building in Marseille

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The body of a woman was found under the debris of two collapsed buildings in the southern French city of Marseille on Tuesday evening, taking the death toll to four, prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux told AFP. Authorities initially said there may be up to to eight victims.

The collapse has highlighted concerns over the condition of up to 6,000 buildings in Marseille, which have been estimated to be in similarly poor fix.

"We're working hard, so there's still hope", a rescue worker told AFP at dawn on Wednesday as his team continued to search the wreckage with sniffer dogs.

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Rescuers worked throughout the night searching the rubble of the dilapidated buildings which collapsed suddenly on Monday morning in Noailles, a working-class district in the heart of the Mediterranean port city. An adjoining third building, number 67, sustained damage and was torn down for fear it would collapse, as well.

Sabine Bernasconi, the local mayor for that part of Marseille, said one of the buildings was subject to an evacuation order, but could not say for sure that squatters were not using it.

Images of the buildings before they collapsed, visible on Google Street View, showed that one of the buildings was clearly in poor fix, with boarded-up windows and large visible cracks on the facade before it collapsed.

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"Everybody knew about the problems with the two collapsed buildings", Patrick Lacoste, a spokesman for a local housing action group, said.

"People died for nothing, even though we knew". The disaster, he added, was "100 percent the fault of city hall". Eight hours later, another neighboring building collapsed.

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

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Marseille city council has evacuated and rehoused 100 residents from neighbouring buildings and says heavy rain may have contributed to the collapse. It was a dilapidated building but there were owners and tenants there. A 2015 report by the government found that 100,000 residents of Marseille "were living in housing that was unsafe to their health or security", according to AFP.

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