Collapsed buildings in Lille: missing, investigation… Where are we with the incident?

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Prepared for “prolonged” operations, firefighters continued to search the rubble of two buildings in the center of Lille in the early hours of this morning in search of a missing doctor.

In Lille, two three-story buildings, one under construction, collapsed on rue Pierre-Mauroy, a downtown commercial street, around 9:15 a.m., but most residents were able to evacuate thanks to a warning. was turned on by one of them at night.

The victim?

Several politicians initially said there were “a priori” victims before firefighters announced they were looking for this “potential victim”.

“We are almost certain that this person is under the rubble,” said Lt. Col. Stephane Boventre. “His phone is not answering, his car is in the parking lot, (…) and he has not served his sentence.” “We are concentrating all our efforts (…) on manually removing the debris to reach this victim,” he said. According to firefighters, the man was “rented for the weekend.”

They said that one more person with minor injuries was pulled out from under the rubble. Later in the day, fire captain Sébastien Pagnacco warned that “Search and clean-up operations (…) will be long-term”, adding that he had asked for the reinforcement of the deconstruction arm.

Open investigation

The prosecutor’s office of Lille said that it opened an investigation under the article “endangering the lives of others” and appointed a “forensic examination”. According to the Housing Minister’s Representative, Olivier Klein, who will visit Lille on Monday, the building “has not suffered from health problems”.

A healthy warning

Lille’s Socialist mayor Martine Aubri, who was at the scene Saturday morning, said dozens of people had been evacuated hours before the collapse. One of the residents returned home at 03:00 a.m. and saw that the building had moved and gave a warning. “We couldn’t open the door anymore, we heard the debris falling,” said Thibaut Lemay, a young man from France Bleu Nord who immediately called the emergency services.

Municipal police and firefighters decided to evacuate a building that appeared to be empty, Ms Aubry said, noting there was “a real risk”.

“I’m still shaking because if this gentleman hadn’t come home at 3:00 a.m. and joined us (…) there would have been deaths,” the local resident said before announcing. There was no. He said he received an “imminent danger order.”

“I was still awake when the firefighters started knocking on the doors, but I thought they were having fun and I stayed in bed,” another resident, Benjamin Lopard, 35, told AFP. year.

“When the police came, I knew it was serious,” continues the young man, who left around 5:30 a.m. after changing his documents, computer and clothes. “Now I realize how incredibly lucky we are,” he says. “Without this evacuation, ‘we’d all be in wooden boxes.'” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin thanked “the student who warned last night” on Twitter.

Blown away buildings #Lille : we thank the prefecture, the emergency services and the services of the city of Lille for their quick intervention and professionalism. Thanks also to the student who gave the warning last night. Obviously, there is no loss.

— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) November 12, 2022

The surrounding buildings were evacuated on Saturday morning “as a precaution” and the area was guarded by a large number of police officers, tarpaulins were installed to prevent passers-by from seeing the operation.

Night searches

When evening fell, the firefighters moved under the light of powerful searchlights in the rubble, a dusty mixture of brick and metal beams, the remains of scaffolding on the facade of the building, where it was possible to separate a staircase and door frames in the balance.

Ludovic Fischer, 30, who works in a neighboring building, told AFP: “A few seconds ago we heard a very slow noise. We thought it was scaffolding falling.” “We realized that the whole building was collapsing, we all ran,” he added. “I got the fright of my life.”

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