Italian rescuers search for survivors after gas explosion kills at least three in Sicilian town of Ravanusa
At least three people have been killed and six more are missing after a suspected gas explosion collapsed a four-story residential building in the Sicilian town of Ravanusa.
- Three children and a couple expecting a baby are still missing
- Two survivors have so far been pulled from the rubble
- Several other unoccupied buildings collapsed in the explosion
The building was occupied by nine extended family members and two visiting relatives.
A very pregnant woman and her husband were also at the scene when the explosion occurred on Saturday evening, firefighters said.
The ANSA news agency said three children were also among those missing.
Residents of the city of 11,000 people watched firefighters and civil protection rescuers on Sunday try to locate the survivors.
“It’s a small town and everyone knows each other,” said Arcangelo D’Angelo, a 69-year-old retiree, adding that he knew the missing people.
Two people were found alive under the rubble, including Rosa Carmina, 80.
Ms Carmina told La Repubblica newspaper that the lights suddenly went out “and the ceiling and floors collapsed”.
Her sister-in-law, who lived upstairs above her, also survived and was rescued from under a pile of rubble.
The explosion also caused three other buildings to collapse that appear to have been unoccupied and windows smashed in three more.
“It was certainly a gas leak that created a methane bubble,” Sicilian civil protection chief Salvatore Cocina told ANSA.
He said a preliminary finding indicates that the operation of an elevator may have triggered the explosion, which was then fueled by a gas heater.
The operator of the Italgas gas network has expressed its sadness and condolences to the residents of Ravanusa.
He said his emergency department had not received any reports of a gas leak last week.
“Ravanusa’s distribution network was fully inspected in 2020 and 2021,” the company said, adding that there was no construction site on the affected section of the pipeline.
Ravanusa is located near the town of Agrigento in southwestern Sicily, famous for its Greek temples.
Son / ABC