24 hours after the collapse of a 4-storey apartment building in the suburban town of Rosny-sous-Bois in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, fire-fighter are still searching for survivors buried in the rubble
The toll so far is a heavy one: 6 dead and 11 injured, including 4 seriously.
The ruins of the apartment block situated about 10km to the east of Paris are now going to be searched using heavier equipment, according to the prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis Philippe Galli, who says that the search by hand has now reached its end. Hopes are fading of finding two more people missing and presumed to be somewhere under the remains of the flats.
“We have still two more people to be found,” said Gabriel Plus, spokesman for the Paris Fire Brigade. These are an 80-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man who lived on the ground floor and the first floor respectively. Up to now, emergency services have pulled two survivors out of the rubble.
“The more time moves on, the more that goes against us,” said the head fireman. “Moreover, as the search advances, the men are finding themselves on the lower floors of the collapsed building. The damage is therefore more significant, with metallic structures that need to be sawn through with a chainsaw and particularly involve a huge manual labour effort to remove stones one by one.”
Commander Plus is still keen to maintain hope, however: “We’re concentrating on the zone where we found the last two bodies – a young man of 14 and another aged 50, on Sunday around 23:00.” This morning (Monday) at 07:30, he points out that “sniffer dogs haven’t indicated anything since 02:30 but they are identifying zones of interest. Our work is focused on these zones, knowing that we are unfortunately approaching the risk zone, very near the neighbouring building that was weakened by the explosion.”
The part of the building that didn’t collapse is still threatening to collapse on the 70 rescue workers that are still mobilised, considerably slowing down operations, adds the fire chief. The greater the quantity of rubble removed from the site, the more fragile the remaining structure becomes, increasing the risk of further collapse.
The explosion appears to have been due to a build-up of gas and occurred yesterday (Sunday) around 07:00. Rescue work will continue “for a long time”, according to the firemen.