By AFP with Euronews
Rescue teams walks near to debris and burned houses after an explosion in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque – Copyright RAYMOND ROIG/AFP or licensors
Several people have died in southwestern France after an explosion and fire ripped through a residential street.
The powerful blast occurred on Sunday night in the town of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque near the Spanish border, authorities said.
The explosion caused a fire in three small buildings on one of the Pyréneés town’s main streets. The bodies of seven people — including a baby and another child — have so far been pulled from the rubble.
One man was wounded after jumping from a second-storey floor to escape the flames, with at least thirty others suffering minor injuries.
Public prosecutor Jean-David Cavaillé told reporters that the number of victims is “provisional” and “may, unfortunately, change”.
“There are one or two people [missing] and we need to know if they are alive,” he added.
The town hall said a number of local residents had been provided with accommodation after being evacuated by firefighters.
An investigation into “arson resulting in death” has been launched, Cavaille told a press conference on Monday.
But he added that it was “too early” to determine whether the cause of the explosion was “accidental or criminal”.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Twitter that he was travelling to the scene.
“I give my full support to the State services mobilised and to the inhabitants,” Darmanin said, “my thoughts are with the victims and their families.”