MARSEILLE (AFP) - Rescue workers on Friday (Nov 9) pulled an eighth body from the rubble of two dilapidated buildings which collapsed in the southern French city of Marseille, as residents were evacuated and nearby buildings inspected.
Officials had feared five residents and three visitors were in one of the buildings which suddenly crumbled on Monday morning in a working-class district just a few steps from the bustling port.
The second building had been condemned and boarded up because of safety risks, while a third partially collapsed during Monday's search operation.
Dozens of residents on the Rue d'Aubagne were evacuated as workers carefully searched the site, fearful that more destabilised buildings would fall.
At one point, the search was halted as two more buildings at risk of falling on rescuers were carefully torn down.
Evacuations continued on Friday as firemen widened their inspections of nearby buildings in the Noailles neighbourhood, where residents say their complaints about unsafe and unsanitary housing had fallen on deaf ears for years.
On Thursday night, the city lodged 236 people in hotels after they were ordered to leave their homes, a city hall spokesman said.
Angry residents and housing advocates plan to stage a silent march Saturday afternoon, accusing the city of ignoring their warnings about worrisome cracks in their buildings and other risks.
But Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin Friday again rejected claims his administration had ignored residents' complaints, saying the city has been engaged in housing renewal projects for years.
"Today, faced with such a disaster, everyone wants a scapegoat," he told a press conference.
"Naturally, a city's mayor is always held responsible for everything."