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Buildings collapse after Sicily explosion

At least one person has died after a gas leak caused an explosion that triggered the collapse of a number of buildings in Sicily, Italian emergency services say.

One body was pulled from the rubble while two women were rescued and a further eight people remained unaccounted for, Sicily’s civil protection unit DRPC Sicilia said just before 5am on Sunday.

“A number of buildings” collapsed after the explosion at around 8.30pm on Saturday in Ravanusa, about 110 kilometres southeast of Palermo, DRPC Sicilia said. According to ANSA news agency three buildings collapsed and a further three were damaged.

ANSA cited firefighters as saying that the gas leak was “very substantial” and built up underground.

“The explosion may have been triggered by the activation of an elevator,” the Agrigento fire brigade’s Giuseppe Merendino told the agency. “In the upcoming days we’ll investigate further, but what is certain is that such an explosion is an exceptional event.”

A first woman was rescued from a building “probably near to those affected by the disaster”. She sustained minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital where they found “some fractures,” emergency services said.

A second woman, which was said to be her sister, was pulled out of the rubble hours later, according to DRPC Sicilia head Salvo Cocina.

ANSA news agency cited the civil protection as saying two children and a pregnant woman due to give birth on Wednesday were among the missing.

Civil protection, firefighters and canine units were at the scene among others.

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