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Rescue workers clear the debris

Three people have been found dead in the rubble of two collapsed buildings in the French city of Marseille and several others are still missing.The buildings fell side by side on Monday morning on Rue d’Aubagne near the city’s historic port.Between five and eight people remain unaccounted for. A third building at risk of collapse has been torn down by firefighters. Residents said cracks had appeared in the buildings’ walls in recent weeks.The bodies of a man and a woman were the first to be found. Among those missing was an Italian woman.In a tweet, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner reiterated that rescue efforts were ongoing and a full investigation would be carried out. Mr Castaner said one of the buildings involved in the collapse had passed a technical inspection for continued habitation on October 18. The second building had been declared derelict and boarded up by inspectors. Firefighters tore down a third building because it had been partially damaged by the falling apartment blocks.

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AFP

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Local media said the debris resembled the aftermath of an earthquake

Marseille officials have now evacuated and re-housed 100 local residents as a precaution. Renaud Muselier, president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, has questioned the suitability of apartment blocks in the area. “The risk is that it is a house of cards. It was a dilapidated building but there were owners and tenants there. It wasn’t a slum,” he said. Further criticism has come from local lawmaker and politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon.”It’s the homes of the poor that are falling down, and that’s not a coincidence,” he said. A regeneration plan was launched in 2011 to vastly upgrade Marseille’s city centre. A 2015 government report said 100,000 residents were living in housing that was ‘dangerous to health or security’ of its tenants.As rescue efforts continue on the ground, authorities have suggested there is hope for the recovery of the missing.”During the first clearing operations we’ve found some pockets of air. That means we still have some hope of finding and identifying a survivor,” said Mr Castaner. “The main thing is to save lives”.

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