A violent building explosion in central Paris injured 37 people, four of them critically. Two people are still missing and suspected to be under the rubble, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said at the site of the explosion on Wednesday evening. The cause of the disaster is still unknown.
According to the preliminary investigation, the investigators assume a gas leak. The blast partially collapsed a multi-story building in the fifth arrondissement, sparking a large fire that spread to several neighboring buildings. Several houses were evacuated. Windows broke.
Two missing people were searched for under the rubble in the evening. Heavy equipment will be mobilized to remove the rubble, said the interior minister. According to him, the dead may still be recovered or survivors saved during the night.
Macron expresses his condolences
Eyewitnesses spoke of an enormous explosion that reminded them of a bomb impact. The plume of smoke could also be seen from a distance. President Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences to those affected. "Our thoughts are with those affected by the explosion in Paris, with those missing and with the rescue workers who are on the scene."
Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne rushed to the site of the explosion, which was cordoned off by soldiers. You have set up a crisis center, said Mayor Anne Hidalgo. According to the Minister of the Interior, 325 firefighters were on site. The fire was under control by evening, according to the fire service.
Fashion School and Music Institute
According to media reports, the building housed a fashion school and a music institute, among other things. It was initially not known how many people were in the building at the time of the explosion shortly before 5 p.m. The local mayor's office opened its doors to those affected and helpers.
The public prosecutor's office initiated investigations into negligent bodily harm, neglected caution or safety, as reported by the broadcaster BFMTV. Accordingly, the investigators assume that the explosion came from the building.