Disasters & Accidents

16 Hurt in gas explosion in Paris

Paris, Jun 21 (EFE).- At least 16 people were injured, seven of them gravely, in an explosion here Wednesday that caused the partial collapse of a building and appears to have been due to a gas leak, French authorities said.

The blast and ensuing fire began around 5:00 pm inside a building housing the Paris American Academy, a school of fashion, creative arts, and design located near Val de Grace military hospital in the city’s 5th arrondissement, Paris police chief Laurent Nuñez said.

First responders are searching the rubble and the number of casualties could grow, he said during a press conference alongside Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

The blaze was quickly brought under control by 267 firefighters, Nuñez said.

While the police chief was reluctant to speculate about the origin of the explosion, the deputy mayor of the 5th arrondissement, Edouard Civel, pointed to the likelihood of a gas leak.

France’s prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said that a number of witnesses reported noticing a strong odor of gas before the blast.

Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said that officials had too little information to make a determination about the cause.

“An investigation is now underway, as part of legal investigation that has been opened on the following charges: unintentional injury with the aggravating circumstance of deliberately endangering the lives of others,” she said.

“I would stress that this charge was chosen because we felt it was the most appropriate on the basis of the evidence available at the time. There is nothing to prevent this classification from evolving, even if we have initial elements that lead us to confirm that this explosion originated in the building,” the prosecutor said.

EFE ac/dr

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