The collapse of houses in Marseille was the 3rd victim

Two buildings collapsed suddenly not far from Marseille city centre

French rescue crews who labored through the night say they've found the body of a man in the ruins of two buildings that collapsed in a pile of beams and rubble in the southern city of Marseille.

The news service reports that nine of that building's 10 units were occupied, with a shop filling the lower level.

The search has proven hard because one of the collapsed buildings, 63 Rue d'Aubagne, was closed and was possibly used by squatters.

"It's hell here, they know that it's crap and now people die for nothing", said local resident Toufik Ben Rhouma. He added that the figures had changed little since making Marseille the European city with "the most decaying housing".

The second apartment block, which was in such a bad state that it had been condemned, was boarded up and in theory unoccupied, according to officials.

Google Maps images taken in recent months showed the two collapsed buildings, in the working-class neighbourhood of Noailles, had had large visible cracks in their facades.

"The most important is saving lives", Castaner added from the scene.

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"She was a great girl, she used to come and study at the bar", he said, without giving his name.

One of those thought dead includes a mother who did not collect her daughter from school on the day of the incident, and another woman who rarely left her apartment.

Authorities have not revealed the identities of the victims, and several other people remain missing. "It could have been me", she said.

Sophie Dorbeaux, a 25-year-old philosophy student, was one of them.

Marseille city council has evacuated and rehoused 100 residents from neighbouring buildings and says heavy rain may have contributed to the collapse.

Marseille authorities began a vast upgrade plan for the city centre in 2011. A 2015 report by the government found that 100,000 residents of Marseille "were living in housing that was risky to their health or security", according to AFP.

"It's unthinkable that such things happen in our time", said Christian Gouverneur, who owns a flat in an apartment block opposite the collapsed buildings.

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