Woman crushed to death as villa collapses near Florence

Firemen on Friday pulled a 35-year-old woman's lifeless body from the rubble of a two-storey villa in Bagno a Ripoli near Florence, which collapsed after a suspected gas leak.

The woman's two daughters aged 10 and 7 and her husband were dug out alive from the rubble of the family's home but were seriously injured in the explosion late on Thursday.

Both girls have extensive burns to their bodies and are being treated at Florence's Meyer Pediatric Hospital while their father is intensive care at the city's Careggi hospital, local daily La Nazione reported on its website.

"We heard an explosion, then a terrific bang. It was like an earthquake - worse than an earthquake," the paper quoted the family's neighbours as saying.

The paper named the dead woman as Valentina Auciello and said her husband Roberto Mantione owns a pet and animal supplies shop in the area.