Three people died and six are missing after an explosion on Sicily caused multiple residential buildings to collapse on Sunday. Two women were recovered alive.
Television images show nothing but rubble and beams where one of the buildings once stood. There have been conflicting reports on just how many buildings collapsed with Sicily’s regional civil protection unit saying on its website that “four buildings were involved” in the incident. However, local media have cited as many as 10 buildings affected.
Explosion on Sicily probably caused by gas leak
Two women were recovered alive from the rubble in the southern town of Ravanusa after the collapse on Saturday night, and rescuers and sniffer dogs were searching to locate the missing.
An investigation is open into the cause of the explosion, which occurred around 19:30 GMT Saturday. It was likely caused by a gas leak, said authorities
A “huge shock wave” from the explosion was felt 100 metres (330 feet) away, said Salvatore Cocina, head of Sicily’s civil protection unit.
“The gas probably found a cavity in which to accumulate,” the head of firefighters in the province of Agrigento, Giuseppe Merendino, told the Rainews24 TV channel. “This pocket of gas would then have found an accidental trigger: a car, an elevator, an electrical appliance.”
“Everything is extremely difficult because the buildings have collapsed on top of each other and the rubble is overlapping,” he said, as quoted in the newspaper Giornale di Sicilia. “We have to look for spaces between the rubble to recover the missing,” he said.
100 people displaced
One hundred people are displaced, said the head of the Sicilian Civil Protection Salvo Cocina. He stressed checks are still underway even though several apartments were uninhabited.
The Municipality prepared temporary housing, but for the most part the displaced have found accommodation with relatives and friends. The Civil Protection will send personnel for psychological support.
“Suddenly the light went out, then the roof and the floor came down.” This is the dramatic story of Rosa Carmina, one of the two survivors of the Ravanusa collapse as reported by news agency ANSA.
The 80-year-old woman, pulled alive from the rubble, was interviewed by La Repubblica in the Licata hospital. Carmina heard the voices of the firefighters and that she screamed until she was found. She also heard her sister-in-law, who lived upstairs, pleading for help. She too was saved and was recovered shortly after. “I haven’t smelled any gas in the past few days,” the woman said.