A police spokeswoman announced on Monday that a sixth body had been discovered by French rescuers among the wreckage of buildings in the southern city of Marseille that had collapsed after an explosion.
Following Sunday’s explosion, which caused two residential structures to be completely demolished and a third to partially collapse, authorities had earlier stated that they had located eight persons who were still missing. The explosion’s origin is still a mystery.
The discovery of the bodies is “gruesome, difficult and dramatic,” said housing minister Olivier Klein, speaking to reporters in Marseille, adding that the government must support the victims, their families and those who have been evacuated from their homes.
The rescue operations were continuing with “care and determination” and 40 buildings near the site have been evacuated, he added.
The collapse caused a fire which has complicated rescue efforts and which was continuing to burn on Monday.
Five people were taken to hospital on Sunday with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
In 2018, about 1 km (0.62 mile) from the site of the Marseille buildings, three other structures considered unfit for habitation collapsed killing eight people.
The mayor of Marseille said a parallel could not be drawn, while the prosecutor said the buildings that collapsed on Sunday were not known to have any structural problems, and that a gas explosion is being investigated as a possible explanation.