Firefighters in Sicily were digging through the rubble of a collapsed apartment building on Sunday in the search for six missing people after an explosion apparently caused by a gas leak killed at least three, authorities said.
The building was occupied by nine members of an extended family, and two visiting relatives – a heavily pregnant woman and her husband – were also on the premises when the explosion happened in the town of Ravanusa late on Saturday, firefighters said.
One of them, 80-year-old Rosa Carmina, told La Repubblica newspaper that the lights went out suddenly “and the ceiling and floors collapsed”.
Her sister-in-law, who lived on the floor above her, also survived and was rescued from under a pile of rubble.
“It was certainly a gas leak that created created a bubble of methane,” Salvatore Cocina, head of Sicily’s civil protection agency, told the Ansa news agency.
He said a preliminary finding indicated that the functioning of a lift may have set off the explosion, which was then fed by a gas space heater.