On Tuesday, Pope Francis sent in a telegram his condolences and his
sincere closeness to the victims and their relatives after the explosion which occurred on Saturday at the beginning of the night in this town of some 11,000 inhabitants located in the south of the Italian island, which left more than 100 people homeless.
He also expressed his
gratitude to rescuers after searches carried out day and night by dozens of firefighters in the rubble of four buildings with the help of sniffer dogs.
As of Sunday morning, two women were found alive in the rubble, but no other signs of life have been detected since.
According to Italian media, the two missing people are an 88-year-old man and his 59-year-old son.
Among the victims are a 30-year-old nurse, nine months pregnant and due to give birth next week, as well as her husband.
An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the explosion which could be linked to a gas leak, according to the authorities.
The natural gas distribution company Italgas said it had not received any reports of gas leaks in the week before the incident, but neighbors had reported smells of gas.
No work was underway on the affected section and the city’s distribution network underwent full inspections in 2021 and 2020, according to the company.
According to the daily La Repubblica, the city’s gas network – deployed 36 years ago – is one of the oldest in Italy and stretches over unstable ground, prone to erosion and landslides.