An explosion of unknown origin that ripped through a building in a historic area in central Paris on Wednesday injured 24 people, including four seriously, officials said.
The blast was followed by a major fire which caused one building, housing a fashion school, to collapse, as well as an adjacent building, emergency services said. Some 70 fire trucks and 230 firefighters were battling the blaze which was contained by the early evening. Nine doctors were also at the scene.
The fire service said there had been “an explosion” which had “caused the collapse of two buildings”. Several witnesses told AFP at the scene they had heard “a giant explosion”.
Windows as far as 400 metres (440 yards) away were shattered, AFP reporters said. The “violent” fire which broke out after the explosion has now been “contained”, Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said at the scene, adding that “work is still taking place under the rubble” to find any more possible victims.
Prosecutors said two people were still missing following the blast.
The firefighters “prevented the spread of the fire to two adjoining buildings which were seriously destabilised by the explosion” and “were evacuated”, Nunez added.