Death Toll From Collapsed Buildings in Marseille Rises to 6

MARSEILLE, France — The death toll in the collapse of two dilapidated buildings in the southern French city of Marseille rose to six on Wednesday, drawing outrage from residents who say the authorities routinely ignore warnings about the state of housing in low-income neighborhoods.

Rescue workers sifting through the rubble of the adjacent buildings, which crumbled Monday morning in Noailles, near the city’s Old Port, have so far retrieved the bodies of four men and two women, said the Marseille prosecutor, Xavier Tarabeux.

The interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said that 120 police officers and 80 firefighters had joined the search-and-rescue operation, and that they had identified air pockets in the debris that meant there could be survivors.

“We’re working hard, so there’s still hope,” a rescue worker said at dawn on Wednesday as his team, which included sniffer dogs, searched the rubble. No survivors have been found so far.

One of the buildings that collapsed, on the rue d’Aubagne, had been condemned, but local officials could not rule out that squatters might have been living there. The second building was inhabited, although it is not clear by how many people.

Among its residents was Sophie Dorbeaux, 25, a philosophy student who said she left the building Sunday night to stay with her parents because her door, like those of several other apartments, was not closing properly.

“The walls had been moving for several weeks and cracks had appeared,” Ms. Dorbeaux said. “It could have been me.”

Google Maps images taken in recent months show large cracks and other signs of deterioration in the facades of the two buildings.

Emergency crews later tore down a third building for fear that it, too, would collapse. The authorities also evacuated and rehoused 100 residents from buildings near the diaster site.

Residents of the neighborhood say that it was widely known that there were structural problems with the buildings on the narrow shopping street, but that city officials had done little when the dangers were raised with them.

“Everybody knew about the problems,” said Patrick Lacoste, a spokesman for a local housing action group. “People died for nothing.”

Toufik Ben Rhouma, who lives in the area, said the neighborhood was “hell,” and declared that the disaster was “100 percent the fault of City Hall.”

Mr. Castaner, the interior minister, told lawmakers in Paris on Tuesday that he had ordered a safety audit of Marseille housing. “Nearly 6,000 properties have been identified as at risk” in the city, he said, representing a total of 44,000 residential units in lower-class neighborhoods.

But a 2015 government report said that some 100,000 residents of Marseille lived in housing that put their health or security at risk.

“It’s unthinkable that such things happen in our time,” said Christian Gouverneur, who owns an apartment across the road from the disaster site.

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