Death toll in Paris building blast rises to six

Monday 01 September 2014 23.02
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Firefighters comb through the rubble looking for survivors
Firefighters comb through the rubble looking for survivors
The four-storey building in Rosny-sous-Bois was extensively damaged
The four-storey building in Rosny-sous-Bois was extensively damaged

Six people have been confirmed dead after an explosion ripped through an apartment building outside Paris, reducing half a residential block to rubble, emergency services have said.

The bodies of a child believed to be aged ten, a boy aged 14-18, and two women were recovered from the remains of the four-storey building in the northeastern suburb of Rosny-sous-Bois.

Two more bodies were found late last night as firefighters continued to comb the wreckage, leaving two other people still unaccounted for, Mayor Claude Capillon said.

Neighbours said the blast, which happened at around 6am Irish time yesterday, was strong enough to shake buildings up to 100 metres away.

Firefighters said 11 people were injured in the explosion, four of them seriously.

Gaetan de Raucourt, head of the Paris firefighting department, said there was still hope that occupants had found "pockets of air" amid the rubble.

"People might be sheltering there. We still have hope of finding survivors," he said.

Emergency crew chief Bernard Tourneur said the search would continue for at least 24 hours with care, since the remainder of the building left standing "is threatening to cave in".

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who visited the scene, and police initially pointed to a gas leak as a likely cause of the blast.

GRDF, the company in charge of delivering gas to homes, told AFP that "no leaks had been reported previously" in the area.

Deputy Mayor Serge Deneulin said the building dates from the 1970s and was "in perfect shape".

City officials set up a makeshift shelter in a nearby school with an on-site medical team for families hit by the blast.

Keywords: paris, france