At least 17 people were injured in a violent building explosion in the center of Paris on Wednesday, four of them critically. The explosion, which was initially determined to be caused by a gas leak, partially collapsed a multi-storey building in the fifth arrondissement and triggered a large fire that spread to several neighboring buildings. Other houses whose windows were shattered by the explosion were also evacuated.
Two people were still missing in the evening and searched under the rubble, as the newspaper "Le Parisien" reported with reference to the investigators. Eyewitnesses spoke of an enormous explosion that reminded them of a bomb impact. The plume of smoke could also be seen from a distance.
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. 230 firefighters were on site, as reported by the broadcaster BFMTV. The fire is now under control, the fire brigade reported in the evening.
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.
Note: This article has been updated several times.