Smoke rises from the rubble of the building which collapsed following a strong explosion, in the 5ᵉ arrondissement of Paris, on June 21, 2023. ABDULMONAM EASSA / AFP
One believed in a bomb, the other in a plane that had just crashed. A plume of black smoke rises in the Parisian sky. It is 4:55 p.m. in the 5th arrondissement of the capital, Wednesday, June 21, and an explosion has just sounded rue Saint-Jacques. Glass fragments litter the ground for several hundred meters on the outskirts of the Val-de-Grâce. The blast shattered building windows and shop fronts, and faces crumbled as we got closer to the heart of the disaster.
Number 269. Children who had their snack after a piano lesson talk to their grandmother about“a big boom in the chest”. Michel Denis, director of the Schola Cantorum, a private music, drama and dance establishment, says he was screened ” full force “ 3 meters from his office. Number 277. The address housed the Paris American Academy, a private design and fashion school. All that remains is a collapsed building licked by high flames. The fire even crossed the street to nibble at the facade opposite. In a few minutes, the panic gave way to a great silence, then to the sirens. Some 270 firefighters are mobilized, neighboring buildings evacuated, the perimeter cordoned off.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, who spoke on the spot shortly before 10 p.m., reported thirty-three injured in relative emergency and four whose vital prognosis is engaged. A provisional assessment, the rescue operations are still in progress. A person was still missing on Thursday morning, according to the Paris police headquarters, without being sure, at this stage, that she was indeed at the scene of the tragedy. “The dogs used by the firefighters have ‘marked’, as they say, so it is possible that we will find bodies or living people tonight”specified in the evening Mr. Darmanin, adding that no ” alert “ had been reported concerning this building before Wednesday evening.
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THE “first elements (…) lead us to confirm that this explosion originated from the building”, declared on the spot the prosecutor of the Republic of Paris, Laure Beccuau. But “There is nothing to determine the origin of the accident” at this stage, insisted the Paris prosecutor’s office, which opened an investigation for “involuntary injuries by violation of an obligation of prudence or safety”. The Paris judicial police have been seized. However, several witnesses described strong odors of gas and a « grosse explosion » to journalists from Monde.
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