France building collapse: One dead but man's eagle eyes save more lives

France building collapse: One dead but man's eagle eyes save more lives

One person is confirmed to have died after a building collapsed in the northern French city of Lille over the weekend.

Firefighters located the body of a 45-year-old missing person on Sunday and have now ended search operations.

Another person was pulled from the rubble by Lille's firefighters on Saturday, with only light injuries. An investigation into why the four-story building collapsed is underway.

French authorities have stated that an early warning by one resident prevented more casualties.

The commercial and residential building was evacuated before dawn after a man coming home from a night out at 03:00 on Saturday saw cracks appearing on the surface.

He reported the issue to emergency services, the Lille prefecture said. The fire service responded and created a cordon around the danger zone.

Lille Mayor Martine Aubry told French broadcaster BFM TV that the man’s warning saved lives. He has been named in French media as a 22-year-old student and tenant in the building.

“I am still shaking because if this gentleman hadn’t come home at 3 a.m. and contacted us, we wouldn’t have had this reaction and, well, there would have obviously been deaths,” Aubry said.

“He then warned the municipal police and the firefighters, who decided to evacuate the building, believing that there was a real risk.”

The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, thanked on Twitter "the student who, last night, gave the alert".

In 2018, two dilapidated buildings collapsed in the southern French city of Marseille, killing eight people and triggering harsh criticism of local authorities and the French government.

France's interior minister at the time, Christophe Castaner, responded by ordering a citywide building-by-building audit as well as a program to guarantee safer conditions.