The number of dead from a collapsed apartment block in the Belgian city of Liege has risen to nine and could reach 15 to 20, according to a government minister. The terraced building fell down on Wednesday following an explosion and a fire.
Some of the victims came close to being rescued. One man visiting the scene lost his daughter who lived in the house with her boyfriend.
“The firemen talked to Vicky and Alexis when they were trapped in their bedroom,” he said. “They could not rescue them. Alexis told the firemen how to take out a young girl. She has been saved, but they could not be rescued.”
Three bodies have so far been identified. At one point the search for possible survivors had to be interrupted because of fears that neighbouring buildings might fall down. It was resumed after specialist equipment was brought in from Antwerp.
It is thought the explosion which led to the collapse was caused by a gas leak.
A crisis centre has been set up for the families of the victims and those still missing. The recovery operation could last several more days.