At least one dead after a house collapse in Lille, northern France

IAt least one person died when two houses collapsed in Lille, northern France. Rescue workers recovered a body on Sunday night after hours of digging through the rubble. The identity of the victim could not initially be clarified with certainty.

The two neighboring three-storey houses in a shopping street in the center of Lille collapsed on Saturday morning. At first there seemed to be no casualties. The homes had previously been evacuated after a resident warned that a wall was “crooked,” police said.

Chief Firefighter Stephane Beauventre said the victim may have been a doctor who rented an apartment in one of the houses over the weekend.

Officials examined the neighboring houses at the scene of the accident on Saturday to look for cracks or gas leaks.

One of the residents of the house had noticed on returning home in the early hours of the morning that “the building had moved”. Thibault Lemay said on French radio that he couldn’t open the door and heard stone crumbling. He then immediately informed the authorities.

Resident Benjamin Lopard told AFP he left the building at around 5:30 a.m. with his papers, a computer and a change of clothes, on instructions from the police. Less than four hours later, both houses had collapsed. “I realize now how incredibly lucky we were,” said Lopard.

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