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Pyrenees explosion: Seven people including two children killed in deadly fire in France

Police open an investigation into the cause of the blast, which damaged 11 flats

Holly Bancroft
Monday 14 February 2022 15:09 GMT
Seven people including two children killed in Pyrenees explosion

Two children and five adults have been killed in an explosion in southwest France.

The deadly blast took place at around 1.30am on Sunday night in the main street of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque.

Fire from the explosion spread to neighbouring buildings and flats, and one man reportedly jumped from the first floor to escape the flames.

He is now receiving treatment in hospital, according to France Bleu.

More than 85 firefighters tackled the blaze and at least 11 apartments have been affected.

“When I went to the scene there was smoke everywhere,” town mayor Alain Got said. “We are still not sure about the cause of the incident. We have watched the cameras of the town but it’s difficult to say.”

Rescue teams search the rubble for missing residents (AFP/Getty)

Isabelle, who was woken up by the explosion, said: “I was sleeping when I heard a boom. I thought it was a storm.

“I was in my bed, with the shutters open, and the edges of the windows moved.

“I was very scared, so I quickly went downstairs and people were panicking in the street. We came to take refuge with my neighbour as we couldn’t go back to our apartments because there was too much smoke”.

On Monday morning, emergency services discovered the first five victims in the rubble of the buildings.

A police investigation has been opened into the origin of the blast.

Local prosecutor Jean-David Cavaill said that the initial explosion was thought to have happened in a ground floor sandwich shop.

A local police spokesperson said: “As well as the shop, around 11 flats were affected by the blast, and a number of floors collapsed.

“Gas cylinders were found near the building where the blast happened, and it needs to be established if these were used to start the explosion.”

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin visited the scene in Pyrenees-Orientales on Monday.

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