Two town houses collapsed overnight in the historic centre of Palermo in Sicily, killing at least two people.
Emergency workers rescued a young girl from the rubble on Tuesday morning, but were still searching for two missing elderly women, both residents in the buildings.
Ten people were also injured, though none seriously.
Officials said the death toll was low because the buildings were being evacuated by fire services who had responded to an emergency call.
Authorities also ordered the evacuation of an adjacent building that was found to be unsafe as well.
Illegal construction is rife in Italy, and was blamed for the collapse of buildings in a 2009 earthquake in the central Abruzzo region that killed 300 people.