Two dead in France apartment block collapse

Two dead in France apartment block collapse

REIMS, France - Agence France-Presse
Two dead in France apartment block collapse

Firemen are at work near the collapsed section of an apartment building on April 28, 2013 in Reims, eastern France, after a suspected gas explosion killed at least two people and injured nine others leaving people trapped under debris, authorities said. AFP PHOTO FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI

At least two people died and 10 were hurt Sunday when part of an apartment block in the French city of Reims collapsed after a suspected gas blast.

Firefighters were hunting for victims trapped under debris of the council estate building, where the extremity of a long strip of flats collapsed, taking around 10 apartments down.

Local authorities said the "probable" cause of the accident at the four-storey building in the heart of the Champagne region was a gas explosion.

A spokesman for the prefecture of the Marne department, where Reims is located, said two adults were killed and another 10 were injured, including children.

An AFP photographer at the scene -- citing rescue workers -- said many firefighters were still looking for victims buried under the rubble.

The building -- one of the oldest in the area -- had been renovated several years ago.

This is the latest such accident to occur in the Marne department this month.

At the beginning of April, four people from the same family were killed and another person was seriously injured when a gas explosion devastated their council flat in Witry-les-Reims, not far from the scene of Sunday's accident.
The incident shocked the neighbourhood, particularly as the father had still been alive when firefighters arrived, talking to them for over two hours to try to help them locate his wife and child, before dying in the ambulance.