BOBIGNY: An eight-year-old child was among three people killed in an explosion yesterday that reduced half of a four-storey residential block in a Paris suburb to rubble, emergency services said.
Two women, one in her 80s, also died when the explosion ripped through the building in the the north-eastern suburb of Rosny-sous-Bois shortly before 8am.
“Our house moved, we were trembling from fear,” said Pauline a neighbour who lives 100 metres from the collapsed building. The explosion was so loud that “our ears were ringing,” she added. Others ran out into the street to help victims.
Ghislaine Poletto, 55, who lives about 50 metres away, said she “jumped into her trousers” and hurried to the site where together with neighbours “we managed to pull two children out”.
One of the children was “protected by a mattress and a board above his head which saved his life,” she said.
Firefighters said eleven people were injured, four of them seriously, while rescue workers continued to comb the site for six people who are still unaccounted for.
Gabriel Plus, a commander in the fire brigade, said the elderly lady had “died while we were extracting her from the rubble”.
A gas leak was likely to have been the cause of the blast, which shook buildings up to 100 metres away, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and police said.
“I was scared,” said 10-year-old Sara, who is due to return to school soon with two children who lived in the collapsed building.
Plus noted that there were gas works on site, but would not say for certain they were the cause of the disaster.
GRDF, the company in charge of delivering gas to homes, told AFP that “no leaks had been reported previously” in the area.
“One hypothesis is that it is linked to the work of (electricity company) ERDF, which laid cables in the vicinity,” said a spokesman. ERDF declined to comment.