OAN’s Noah Herring
1:24 PM – Wednesday, June 20, 2023
Twenty-nine people have been injured, four of them “critically injured”, after early reports suggested a gas leak caused a large explosion in central Paris.
The explosion occurred Wednesday afternoon in Rue Saint-Jacques, in a building that was utilized as a design school and the headquarters of the Catholic education system.
Emergency workers scavenged through the wreckage to search for at least two missing people. Around 270 firefighters were deployed to the scene in order to help combat the fire that spread throughout the building, which has since been brought under control.
There was a pungent gas smell present in the area prior to the explosion, according to multiple nearby witnesses.
According to Paris prosecutor Laure Beccauau, initial checks of the security footage revealed that the explosion occurred inside the building, which stands next to Val de Grâce church.
The area around the fire has now been roped off and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has reportedly visited the scene.
The area where the explosion took place is known as a popular tourist destination and has a wide range of students typically passing through.
One student nearby said, “I was in front of the Val de Grâce, I heard a huge boom and I saw a ball of fire 20 or 30m high. And the building collapsed with a huge noise. I smelled gas, but took several minutes to come to my senses.”
Another witness in the area described what he saw from the event when he heard a “big explosion” while he was in his home.
“I stuck my head out of the window and looked towards Cochin [hospital], then I saw a big cloud of smoke and as I got closer, there was a building that had collapsed and for the moment, there is a fire.”
Paris police authorities have deployed an emergency response unit to help with the aftermath of the explosion.
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