Two buildings in the city center collapsed

Two buildings collapsed near the historic main square of the French city of Lille.

(dpa) Two buildings collapsed in the center of the northern French city of Lille, and after hours of searching, firefighters managed to free a slightly injured victim from the wreckage. Special units and 40 emergency vehicles will continue the rescue operation, the fire department announced on Saturday. The man is still missing, “La Voix du Nord” newspaper reported.

The collapse happened around 9:15 a.m. on a street that is heavily visited by shopping tourists during the day, especially on weekends. Renovation work was underway in one of the two adjacent buildings near the historic main square.

A newspaper photographer witnessed the collapse on his way to the newsroom. First, stones broke out of the facade, and then the buildings collapsed. The photographer was able to shift into reverse in time and also assured the rescuers that no one was in front of the buildings at the time of the collapse. The adjacent hotel was evacuated.

The man warned residents of the collapse

According to the mayor of Lille, Martine Aubryová, it was thanks to a young resident of one of the houses that an even bigger accident did not occur. The student came home at 3 a.m., found large cracks in the house, and raised the alarm. The residents of the other three apartments were quickly evacuated. No one seemed to expect the impending collapse.

After the collapse, the surrounding area was largely cordoned off. Rescuers with search dogs and special equipment were deployed in the ruins. The investigation was started by the judiciary. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin thanked the firefighters for their efforts and the student who raised the alarm at night for his prompt action.

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