A second victim, an 82-year-old woman, was found lifeless on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday under the rubble of the collapsed building Tuesday at dawn in Sanary-sur-Mer, the Var firefighters announced.
“A victim was located and then extracted, it is an 82-year-old woman who unfortunately died,” said the Var firefighters via a press release on WhatsApp. This second victim of the tragedy was extracted around 3:40 am, captain Stéphane Nepper told AFP, stressing that “the research continued all night long without interruption”.
A last person, a priori the son of this octogenarian, aged about forty, is still missing, the day after the discovery of a first body, that of a man in his thirties.
“Time is against us”
This first victim was the father of the baby found safe and sound on Tuesday morning with his mother, herself only injured in the legs. This man had been fatally shot in the neck by a fall from a roof structure, Toulon interim prosecutor Dominique Mirkovic told AFP on Tuesday.
In total, according to the latest report, the collapse of this building therefore left two dead and five injured, the mother, her child as well as three lightly injured quickly evacuated to the hospital when the emergency services arrived.
“Time is against us,” Colonel Eric Grohin, the Var fire chief, conceded late Tuesday afternoon, while the dogs of the dog teams dispatched to the site did not show “any signs of life” : but “it is a long-term operation”, he insisted.
The trail of the gas explosion
While research continues to find the last potential victim of this tragedy, the causes of the collapse of this small three-story building located on the old port of Sanary-sur-Mer are still undetermined. But it would undoubtedly be a gas explosion, according to the first findings of the emergency services arrived on the site, who had detected a strong odor emanating from the debris, according to the Var prefecture.
An investigation to determine the causes of death was opened on Tuesday by the Toulon prosecutor’s office. The explosion of the building, which was connected to the town gas network, is clearly visible on CCTV images, the Toulon prosecutor had specified.
The building was not affected by any peril decree, insisted Dominique Mirkovic on Tuesday, expressing no doubt about the origin of this tragedy.
Located between two creperies, on the port of this city of 15,000 inhabitants, the building is now nothing but a heap of rubble. “I thought it was a plane that had fallen,” said a neighbor, after the explosion, heard eight kilometers around, according to the police.
The deadliest explosion in France of a building due to gas dates back to December 26, 2004, with 19 dead, in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin). More recently, on January 12, 2019, four people, including two firefighters, were killed and 66 were injured in the explosion caused by a gas leak on rue de Trévise in Paris in the 9th arrondissement.