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Gas Explosion in Paris Injures 37, Two Missing

Photo: CNN

A gas explosion in an apartment building on Paris’s 5th arrondissement occurred around 5 PM local time on June 21. Across the French capital, smoke permeated and caused some evacuations to occur near the area of the incident. The explosion has injured at least 37 people and required around 270 firefighters on the scene. Five people are in critical condition and two more are missing in the rubble. The facade of the Paris American Academy, a bilingual fine arts school inside the building, collapsed as a result of the gas explosion. Firefighters prevented two neighboring buildings from catching on fire, only limiting the damage to the building where the gas explosion happened. 

According to witnesses, there was a strong gas odor before the explosion. They also describe hearing loud bangs, the ground shaking, and huge amounts of fear while the incident unfolded. Many witnesses did commend the quick response by police and firefighters who immediately evacuated people in the area.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, told reporters that surrounding buildings need to be checked to see whether they were weakened or not. She then added that many building windows had been blown out. Residents will have to wait until they can go back home. 

The Paris prosecutor, Laure Beccuau, stated that investigators will investigate if there was a safety violation rule leading up to this incident or individual imprudence. As of now, the investigation is limited to aggravated involuntary injury. According to Beccuau, what is known is the gas explosion originated from the Paris American Academy building. Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, said that there was no alert preceding the explosion. However, he did state that dead or alive bodies will be found on the night of the explosion. 

The explosion happened during a national day known as the Fête de la musique. In English, this national day is known as World Music Day where music celebrations occur where people go to concerts or enjoy local street bands. President Emmanuel Macron was hosting a concert where he addressed the incident by stating that “tonight we’re celebrating music, but we’re not in the mood to party”. President Macron extended his regards to the victims of the explosion, those who were still missing, and the rescue force. 

Overall, this explosion is only the latest incident in a series of gas explosions that have affected Paris in recent years. On January 2019, a gas explosion ended the lives of 4 people and injured another 47 people. Citizens have raised concerns about the safety of gas pipelines within the city in the past. The French government’s ability to prevent future gas explosions in Paris will depend on the actions it will take in the wake of this incident.

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