French rescue workers have pulled a toddler and the child’s mother from the rubble of a three-storey apartment building that collapsed in a suspected gas explosion on southern France’s Mediterranean coast.
They were still searching on Tuesday for three other people feared buried under the giant pile of debris.
The child, thought to be 18 months old, was located by sniffer dogs and extracted by rescue workers who dug their way through the debris, fire department Captain Aurelia Mannaioni said.
The child was sent to a hospital for treatment of injuries, she said.
The child’s mother also was rescued, she said.
But three other people remain unaccounted for and are feared buried, Captain Mannaioni said.
Authorities for the southern Var region earlier had said that one person was pulled out from the building in critical condition and three others required emergency medical treatment following the blast in the early hours of Tuesday in the coastal town of Sanary-sur-Mer.
The cause of the blast wasn’t immediately clear, but Var authorities said first responders noticed a strong smell of gas on arrival at the scene.
The Local news website reported the blast was heard as far as eight kilometres away.
“Among the five people sought in the debris, three have been located, a woman and a baby were brought out conscious, and an unconscious man is currently being removed,” fire officials told The Local.
“It took more than two hours to get the baby out. He’s been taken into care by emergency personnel and is doing fine,” Colonel Eric Grohin of the regional fire department later told journalists.
Two adjacent buildings were heavily damaged in the blast that took place in the port town of about 15,000 people south-east of Marseille.