A gas explosion damaged a building in the 5th arrondissement of Paris Wednesday, in the busy Central Latin Quarter on the left bank of the Seine, the prefectural mayor said on Twitter, causing a fire. Police and a minister in the national government quickly urged people to avoid the area as it was reported that at least 16 people were injured.
Fire officials did not immediately confirm the area sheriff’s statement that the explosion was caused by a gas leak, but witnesses reported smelling gas in the area before the explosion.
French broadcaster BFM said at least 16 people were wounded in the blast, seven of them in critical condition.
Witnesses told BFM and other outlets that the blast severely damaged a building that houses the language school of the Paris American Academy. The BFM said it was not clear if the initial blast hit the academy or a nearby building.
French media said several buildings in the vicinity caught fire after the blast. Pictures from the site showed that firefighters appeared to have the blaze under control.
This is a developing story. . Please check back for updates
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