Four critical, 37 injured and two missing after Paris fire caused by explosion

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Four people are in a critical condition, 37 have been injured and two are missing after an explosion caused a fire and the collapse of a building in central Paris on Wednesday, media report.

Four victims of the explosion are in a life-threatening condition, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin confirmed. “There was no warning before this explosion. We don’t know its origin” at this stage, he told a press briefing at the scene.

Police were investigating suspicions that a gas leak caused the blast.

The explosion happened near the historic Val de Grace military hospital, in one of the most upscale neighborhoods of the French capital.

Some 270 firefighters were involved in putting out the flames and 70 emergency vehicles were sent to the scene.

The fire was contained but not yet extinguished Wednesday evening, as Paris bars and restaurants celebrated the summer solstice with a citywide annual music festival.

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The local deputy mayor, Edouard Civel, referred to a gas explosion in a Twitter post and witnesses told BFM TV there had been a strong smell of gas moments before the blast.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin earlier said a fire was underway on Rue Saint-Jacques in Paris’ fifth arrondissement, or district, close to the Jardin Du Luxembourg and Sorbonne University.

Firefighters also fought a blaze on Paris’ Left Bank that sent smoke soaring over the domed Pantheon monument and prompted evacuation of buildings in the neighborhood, police said.

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