11 people remain missing in Argentine gas explosion
This view shows two other towers, in front of and behind a 10-story apartment building destroyed by a Tuesday gas explosion that killed 10 people, in Rosario, Argentina, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013. (AP / Alejandro Rio)
Published Thursday, August 8, 2013 2:13PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 8, 2013 10:45PM EDT
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- A cat was pulled alive from the ruins of an apartment building that collapsed in a huge gas explosion, but with 11 people still missing, hundreds of rescuers worked in vain Thursday to find more human victims.
Authorities now say at least 10 died and more than 60 people were injured as the blast rocked Rosario, Argentina's third-largest city.
"Until we remove the last brick, we'll always expect to find people alive," federal police commissioner Angel Poidomani, leading one of the rescue teams, told Rosario's La Capital newspaper.
With damaged towers on both sides of the rubble pile in danger of collapsing on the rescuers, police and firefighters were working as carefully as possible, following the scents of body-sniffing dogs and clues from a fiber-optic cable that captures sounds and movement.
Poidomani compared it to surgery. "These are nine floors of a building that ended up compacted, 5 or 6 metres high. Reaching the centre of this heap is very difficult," he said.
Politicians nationwide cancelled Thursday's closing campaign rallies ahead of Sunday's primary elections, but anti-government marches were still planned Thursday night around the country.
Two repairmen are in custody as a judge probes possible criminal negligence. Residents had asked for a valve to be replaced after complaining to the Litoral Gas company that natural gas wasn't reaching their kitchens. But the company said it wasn't advised before Tuesday's repair job so that it could turn off the gas beforehand.
Authorities say they have identified 10 of those killed and there were conflicting official reports about a possible 11th death.