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France. Gas explosion in Paris and several buildings on fire. Witness accounts

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A gas explosion took place in the fifth arrondissement of Paris on Wednesday, setting several buildings on fire. The services managed to control the fire, but many people were injured. A student who witnessed the incident said he suddenly heard a “huge noise” nearby. “I turned towards him and saw a giant ball of fire, 20 or 30 meters high, like you see in movies or on TV,” he said. “We smelled gas all over the street,” he added.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the explosion and fire occurred in Rue Saint-Jacques in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, near the Luxembourg Gardens and the Sorbonne. Paris police said they are investigating the circumstances of the incident. She appealed to avoid the area where the explosion took place and not to impede the work of emergency services and police.

Several buildings were reportedly on fire as a result of the gas explosion. Police reported that the façade of one of the buildings had fallen onto the street.

More than 200 firefighters were involved in the firefighting operation. After 6 p.m., the head of the Paris police announced that the services had brought the fire under control, but the fire was not completely extinguished. Rescue efforts are still underway, and firefighters managed to prevent two neighboring buildings from being seized, but the structure was “weakened”.

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The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, arrived on the scene.

Many wounded, searching for the missing

According to BFM TV after 7 p.m., citing data provided by the police, at least 29 people were injured, four of them in a critical condition. On Wednesday evening, the services searched for two missing people in the rubble.

“I turned around and saw a giant ball of fire”

Witnesses recalled the moment of the explosion in an interview with Reuters. Student Quentin Hubertis said he was “in the square in front of the Val-de-Grace church” at the time.

– I was on the phone, I wasn’t looking towards the explosion site, but towards the church of Val-de-Grace. Suddenly I heard a huge noise, I turned towards it and saw a giant fireball, 20 or 30 meters high, like you see in movies or on TV, “he reported.

– I was really shocked by the noise and the scale of the explosion. It still rings in my ears, ”the student emphasized. He said that almost immediately he and others who were nearby rushed to the spot. “We really smelled gas all over the street,” he added.

Gas explosion in France, in ParisReuters/@SeanTweetsAlot

The manager of a grocery store near the scene, Rahman Oliur, said the explosion looked like it was caused by a bomb.

– I thought a car drove in there. Everything was destroyed, everything collapsed, he said. He added that he ran out of the store without even closing it.

Main photo source: Reuters/@SeanTweetsAlot

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