A powerful gas explosion at the Académie de Paris, which houses an international school of fashion and design, in the center of the French capital, left 37 injured, according to information from several media.
The blast happened on Wednesday afternoon and severely damaged one of the school buildings. No student was present because it was after school hours.
The search continued Thursday morning to find a person still missing in the rubble. The explosion left at least four seriously injured.
“The number of absolute emergencies did not stabilize overnight,” the Paris prosecutor’s office told AFP on Thursday morning. “The total number of victims is still around fifty”.
Paris American Academy, a fashion and design school, is located in the fifth district of Paris, also known as the Latin Quarter.
Barricades erected on rue Saint-Jacques, in front of the Maison des Mines student residence, keep onlookers and journalists away from the collapsed building, in front of which rubble is piling up.
An explosion destroys the building of the American Academy in Paris and injures 37
There were no vehicles on the street, and only a garden hose was activated intermittently by firefighters to spray the ruins of the destroyed building. The shops on the street were open and people were moving.
Damage was reported over a wide area. Janitor in the street perpendicular to rue Saint-Jacques, Violeta Garesteaw throws broken glass into a trash can placed on the sidewalk. “A lot of windows in the building have been broken, I’m cleaning the inner courtyard and we’ve already put up tarpaulins because it’s raining,” she told AFP.
“It was terrible yesterday, I thought it was an earthquake. It was shaking,” she told AFP.
The incident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. in a building housing the private school of fashion and design.
Several witnesses and residents interviewed by AFP said they smelled gas and heard a “big explosion”.
“One of my colleagues smelled a strong smell of gas and went to look under the porch to see what was going on,” said Philippe Delorme, secretary general of Catholic education, whose premises are in the immediate vicinity of the building. collapsed building. RMC radio Thursday morning.
“As the accountant was dialing the phone number” for the gas supplier’s emergency service, “the explosion occurred,” he continued.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation for “involuntary injuries caused by a manifestly intentional breach of a duty of care or safety”. “First indications (…) lead us to confirm that the explosion originated in the building”, declared on the spot the public prosecutor of Paris, Laure Beccuau.
“We obviously rely on the victims in relative emergency to assist us in the first elements of the investigation and give us an idea of what could have happened,” she added. The Paris judicial police were called.
The mayor of the fifth district, Florence Berthout, told BFMTV that she was “very scared last night” because “young people were looking for their mothers who were on the site of this American fashion school”.
“We always fear the worst in such cases,” she continued, welcoming that the mother had finally been identified at the Percy military hospital in Clamart, where she had been admitted after the explosion.
Some 270 Paris firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to two adjoining buildings, which were seriously destabilized by the explosion” and “were evacuated”, said Wednesday at the start of the evening the prefect of police of the city, Laurent Nuñez.