Seven dead after explosion and fire in south west France

Seven people have died after an explosion in a building in south west France.

Seven dead after explosion and fire in south west France
Fire crews at the scene of an explosion in Saint Laurent de la Salaque. Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP

The explosion happened at around 1.30am in a building in the small town of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque, in the south-west département of Pyrénées-Orientale, close to Perpignan. 

The blast was followed by a fire, which spread to neighbouring buildings, in total 25 people were evacuated and at least seven people have died.

According to local radio station France Bleu, the explosion occurred on the ground floor of the building, in a grocery-sandwich shop in the town, which is close to Perpignan.

A firefighter stands near to debris and burned houses after an explosion in Saint Laurent-de-la-Salanque. Photo by RAYMOND ROIG / AFP

Gas cylinders were found in the vicinity of the affected building, but it is not yet clear whether they were the cause or whether they aggravated the explosion. 

Interior minister Gérald Darmanin tweeted on Monday: “An explosion followed by a fire has killed at least 7 people in the département of Pyrénées-Orientales.

“I am interrupting my trip to Montpellier to go to the scene.

“I give my full support to the State services mobilised and to the inhabitants. My thoughts are with the victims and their families.”

Residents reported hearing a blast around 1.30 am. “I heard a very loud explosion, then I saw huge flames,” neighbour Nadine Bret, 59, told AFP.

“The buildings were ravaged by the flames. It was total panic.”

She said building work had been going on in a fast-food restaurant on the ground floor of one of the buildings on Sunday.

Nearly 100 firefighters were mobilised overnight and on Monday crews continued to search for potential victims iin two small blocks of flats left unstable by the damage from the blaze.

One man in his 30s was taken to hospital in a critical condition after leaping from a second-storey window to escape the fire.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the explosion. 

Member comments

  1. Condolences to those who lost their lives, hopefully the investigation will uncover the cause of the explosion.

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France charges teen over ‘imminent terror attack’ plot

French authorities have charged an 18-year-old man on suspicion of planning an imminent terror attack with a knife in the name of Islamic State (IS) jihadists, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

France charges teen over 'imminent terror attack' plot

Initial investigations indicated that he planned to carry out a terror attack “in the name of IS, to which he had pledged allegiance,” said the source, who asked not to be named, adding that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The source added that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The man, from a Muslim family, had adopted extremist views and was considered a threat, sparking France’s anti-terror prosecutors office (PNAT) to open an investigation on May 19, a source close to the case said.

Police arrested him on Friday and a video of him swearing allegiance to IS was found in his possession.

The source did not say whom he was planning to target in the attack or in which location.

France saw a wave of jihadist attacks from 2015 that left hundreds dead and pushed the country to its highest level of security alert.

There has been no repeat of a mass atrocity in the last years, but there have been several deadly attacks carried out by lone individuals

More to follow