A suspected gas leak led to an explosion that rocked Paris' Latin Quarter on Wednesday, June 22. The calamity injured approximately 37 people, triggered fires, and caused the collapse of a building hosting the Paris American Academy, a school widely recognized among international design students.
Witnesses described an ear-splitting explosion and a massive fireball on Rue Saint-Jacques, a lively street in the central 5th arrondissement of Paris, near globally renowned landmarks such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and Luxembourg Gardens.
Among the victims, four are critically injured. The French military was called in to secure a safety zone surrounding the area of the incident. Over 200 firefighters were dispatched for emergency response, successfully managing to control the resulting fire, according to Paris police chief Laurent Nunez.
The explosion struck at the busy time of 4:55 pm local time, just as workers were heading home. The district, a hub for tourists and international students, reported no immediate injuries or missing reports among foreigners.
Edouard Civel, the local deputy mayor, cited a gas explosion as a potential cause, a claim backed by witnesses who reported a powerful smell of gas before the blast.
However, the Paris prosecutor's office has stated that it is premature to determine the exact cause of the blast. According to initial evaluations, the blast seemed to originate inside the building. Investigators have been assigned to probe whether there were violations of safety regulations related to the building conditions or if any individual acted negligently, stated Paris Prosecutor Laure Beccuau.
This incident has led to widespread evacuations from nearby buildings, which were cleared as a precautionary measure. Emergency personnel were still attending to residents in shock several hours post-incident. The area will remain sealed off while investigations continue and safety evaluations of surrounding structures are conducted.
This incident revives painful memories of a similar event in 2019 when a gas leak led to an explosion that claimed four lives and injured 66 people in the 9th arrondissement. The city was further stricken when a fire erupted in the Notre Dame Cathedral, causing significant damage.
As Paris grapples with this catastrophe, the priority is to locate the missing individuals, offer support to those affected, and conduct a comprehensive investigation to determine the cause and prevent similar future incidents.