Disasters & Accidents

37 Hurt, 2 missing after blast in Paris

Paris, Jun 21 (EFE).- Four of the 37 people hurt here Wednesday in the explosion and fire that caused the partial collapse of a building are in very serious condition, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Two other people thought to have been inside the building at the time of the blast remain unaccounted for, he said late Wednesday during a press conference at the scene where he was accompanied by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

The search of the rubble will continue through the night with the aid of heavy machinery, Darmanin said.

“We don’t know the origin” of the explosion, the minister said, noting that the Paris prosecutor’s office had already launched an investigation.

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.

Hidalgo said that neighborhood residents evacuated because the shock wave from the explosion shattered windows will receive assistance in securing temporary lodging until authorities decide that it is safe for them to return to their homes.

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

While the 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.

“I want to say a word for all the victims, the families, who live in anguish and difficulty,” President Emmanuel Macron said in remarks at an annual music festival in Paris.

EFE ac-rcf/dr

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