Four killed as Sicilian apartment buildings collapse

ROME Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:29pm EST

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ROME (Reuters) - Four people were killed and at least seven were injured when an apartment block collapsed onto another overnight in Palermo's historical city center, Sicilian emergency services said on Tuesday.

The accident is the latest of several similar incidents in Italy, where illegal construction and lax building standards are rife. The building that collapsed had a newly added top floor.

Firefighters and police discovered the bodies of two men aged 54 and 82 during initial searches, and later on Tuesday morning rescued a girl from the rubble.

Searches during the day found the bodies of two women aged 80 and 74. Seven people were slightly injured, Italian media reported.

"We heard creaking and stones slipping, and instinctively we got out of the building," a woman who lived in one of the buildings told reporters.

Gaetano Vallefuoco, head of the firefighters in Palermo, told reporters the collapse was due to structural problems and was not due to a gas leak. (Writing by Naomi O'Leary and Catherine Hornby; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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