Italy: Seven dead as rescuers find bodies in Sicily blast

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Rescuers work at the site of a gas explosion that caused several houses to collapse in RavanusaImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
At least seven people have died after the blast ripped through residential homes

Italian rescuers pulled four bodies from collapsed buildings in Sicily on Monday after a suspected gas explosion.

At least seven people have now died after the blast destroyed four residential buildings on Saturday evening in the Sicilian town of Ravanusa.

Firefighters say they are continuing to search the rubble for two people still said to be missing.

Another 100 people have had to leave their homes because of the explosion.

Authorities said four houses had collapsed and another three were damaged during the blast, which was heard as far as four miles (6km) away.

Among the bodies pulled from the rubble in the early hours of Monday was Selene Pascariello, a 30-year-old nurse who was nine-months pregnant.

She was found along with the bodies of her husband and his parents.

Rescuers used sniffer dogs to locate their bodies.

Fire service spokesman Luca Cari said the rubble had to be removed piece by piece to prevent further collapses that might endanger both firefighters and anyone else still under the rubble.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Authorities are now investigating the cause of the blast

Two people were pulled alive from the rubble on Sunday morning.

Rosa Carmina, told Corriere della Sera that she kept screaming until she was found by firefighters.

"I had just returned home and suddenly the light went out," she said. "In an instant, the roof and the floor came down and I was trapped."

"Fortunately, there are no children among the missing," Ravanusa Mayor Carmelo D'Angelo told Italian media.

Around 100 people have been moved out of the area because of damage to their homes.

An investigation into the cause of the blast is now under way but authorities believe it could have been triggered by a gas leak.

Salvatore Cocina, head of Sicily's civil protection agency told Ansa news agency that the functioning of an elevator could have set off the explosion.

Residents said there had been a strong smell of gas for several days but operator Italgas said it had not received reports of a leak and the network was fully inspected in 2020 and 2021.

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