7 dead, including baby, in midnight blast in France
Seven people, including two children – one of whom was a newborn baby – have died after a suspected gas explosion rocked a small southern French town in the early hours of Monday morning.
A loud explosion was heard around 1:30am local time in one of the main areas of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque, located about fifteen kilometers from Perpignan.
Apparently, the fire spread to the other side of the street.
The blast is said to have occurred on the ground floor of a three-story building. The ground floors were occupied by a grocery store and a fast-food stand. The fire proceeded up through the building.
The cause of the fire remains unknown.
Emergency services discovered five dead bodies in the rubble, while two people were declared missing, according to local media. It is believed that two children, one of whom was a newborn baby, were among the dead.
“An explosion followed by a fire killed at least 7 people in the Pyrénées-Orientales. I am interrupting my trip to Montpellier to go there,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in a tweet. “I give my full support to the mobilized state services and to the inhabitants. My thoughts go out to the victims and their loved ones,” he added.
An investigation has been opened to determine the causes of the explosion, public prosecutor Jean-David Cavaillé told the press at a briefing.
“The presence of gas cylinders seems to be confirmed, but we will give investigators time to check the contents of the shops,” he added.