Firefighters have continued their search in the hope of finding survivors 48 hours after a building collapsed in the centre of the southern French city of Marseille following an explosion.
Two residential buildings were destroyed in the explosion which caused a third to partially collapse.
The blast occurred at 00:49 local time on Sunday (22:49 GMT on Saturday).
Six bodies were found after the explosion flattened a four-storey apartment building in the southern French city of Marseille.
Officials said two others remained unaccounted for and rescue efforts continued in the La Plaine district.
Housing Minister Oliver Klein described the discovery of the bodies as “gruesome, difficult and dramatic”, and told reporters the government would support the families of the victims
Five people from neighbouring buildings sustained minor injuries and some 200 people had to be evacuated from their homes.
Authorities had said earlier that they had identified eight people missing following Sunday’s explosion.
“We continue clearing and searching in hope of finding victims. That’s it, we’re still looking, we’re still hopeful,” said Commander Pascal, head of the rescue operation.
A brief statement announcing the discovery of the bodies, the fire department said that “given the difficulties of intervention, the extraction [of the bodies from the site] will take time”.
A local gymnasium and two schools have been opened to accommodate the people who have had to leave their homes. Psychological support is also being offered.
Prosecutors in areas adjacent to Tivoli Street are waiting for experts to assess the “condition of the buildings” and if it is safe for them to return home.
“We came back to get our stuff because we don’t know how long it will last. It could last a week,” said Richard Lelong who lives in a parallel street.
It is not yet known what caused the explosion, but investigators are looking into the possibility that it could have been from a gas leak.
The public prosecutor’s office in Marseille has opened an investigation for “involuntary homicide” and the city’s mayor ordered all flags on official buildings to be lowered to half-mast.
On Monday evening, the Cardinal Archbishop of Marseille, Jean-Marc Aveline, presided over a prayer vigil in Saint-Michel church close to the scene of the explosion.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter that he was “thinking of those affected and their loved ones” and thanked the emergency workers for their efforts.
Mayor of Marseille Benoît Payan said rescuers remained “determined” to find people alive. “Hope must hold us,” he said.
‘Unlike anything I’ve ever heard’
One local told French media that they heard an explosion “unlike anything I’ve ever heard”.
Speaking to AFP, Saveria Mosnier, who lives nearby, said on Sunday: “I was sleeping and there was this huge blast that really shook the room. I was shocked awake as if I had been dreaming.”
She added: “We very quickly smelled a strong gas odour that hung around. We could still smell it this morning.”
Deputy Mayor Yannick Ohanessian told reporters at the scene that “several” witnesses had described a “suspicious smell of gas”.