News World Europe Frantic search for survivors after Sicily gas blast

Frantic search for survivors after Sicily gas blast

The gas-pipe explosion brought down this apartment building, burying a dozen residents in the rubble. Photo: AP
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An elderly woman has been rescued but 10 other people remain missing after a gas methane leak caused an explosion that triggered the collapse of what officials describe as “a number of buildings” in Sicily.

The structures came down after the explosion at around 8.30pm local time in Ravanusa, about 110 kilometres southeast of Palermo, said Sicily’s civil protection unit.

DRPC Sicilia said four buildings were affected by the explosion, though later the local ANSA news agency cited it as saying six buildings were affected.

An elderly woman was rescued from a building’s rubble in the early hours of Sunday, DRPC Sicilia said. In a near miracle she sustained minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital.

DRPC Sicilia head Salvo Cocina said 10 people remain unaccounted for, two children and a pregnant woman among them.

Nine of the missing people were in the same building at the time of the explosion, it added.

“The search for the other missing persons by (urban search and rescue) and canine units continues unabated,” firefighters said in a tweet.

The explosion also triggered a fire that was put out around 11.15pm, however emergency workers could not initially access the scene due to “pockets of gas”, DRPC Sicilia said.

Three hours later the gas provider had still not managed to cut off the gas flow to the affected area.