10-Month-Old Baby Among Survivors When Building Explodes, Father Killed in Blast

Rescue workers recovered a baby and its parents from an apartment building explosion in southern France Tuesday, the child and its mother surviving and hospitalized for injuries, according to the Associated Press.

The explosion occurred at a three-story building in the coastal town of Sanary-sur-Mer, southeast of Marseille. According to EuroNews, the explosion occurred around 3:50 a.m. Tuesday. The collapse could be heard as far as five miles away.

The 10-month-old baby's father was found dead at the scene, lying by the baby's side. The mother is currently in serious condition in the hospital, the AP reported.

Two other potential victims of the explosion are still missing. Filipino news network GMA News Online reported that the two missing are an elderly woman and her son.

Fire department Captain Aurelia Mannaioni told the AP that sniffer dogs helped to find the family in all the debris. Hearing the child's cries also helped to pinpoint their location.

Colonel Eric Grohin of the regional fire department told The Local France it took about two hours to get the baby out and that it is "doing fine" after being taken in by emergency services.

Another three people were injured in the blast and brought to the hospital, The Local France reported. Two neighboring buildings were also greatly damaged by the explosion.

Authorities are still trying to find the cause of the explosion. The mayor of Sanary-sur-Mer, Daniel Alsters, told GMA that while all the buildings in the historic center of the town were old, the collapsed building "was in no way dilapidated."

Sanary-sur-Mer, commonly known as Sanary, is a town of about 16,000 in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeastern France, near port cities like Marseille and Toulon. International Living called it one of the "top retirement destinations in the area."

France, building collapse
French rescue workers dug out the body of a man but also pulled a toddler and the child's mother alive from the rubble of a building that collapsed in a suspected gas explosion in southern France. Above, firemen and rescue workers stand at a three-story apartment building after it collapsed, Tuesday, December 7, 2021, in Sanary-sur-Mer. Daniel Cole/AP Photo

The cause of the explosion wasn't immediately clear, but regional authorities said first responders noticed a strong smell of gas on arrival at the scene.

The top government official for southern France's Var region, Prefect Evence Richard, said the baby's cries and sniffer dogs helped pinpoint its location in the rubble.

"At certain moments, the child started crying," he said. "That allowed for an initial localization, which the dogs confirmed."

Regional fire department chief Colenol Eric Grohin said the father's body was found alongside his child. Firefighters first dug out the mother and then the child, Grohin said.

"We created a sort of gallery," he said. "We managed to bring out the child, who was conscious."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

France, Sanary-sur-Mer
Rescue workers are still searching for two missing people in the rubble of a collapsed building in southern France. Above, the damaged three-story apartment building is pictured after it collapsed in a suspected gas explosion on France's Mediterranean coast Tuesday, December 7, 2021, in Sanary-sur-Mer. Daniel Cole/AP Photo