Powerful blast destroys American Academy in Paris

A suspected gas explosion collapsed at least one building and injured multiple people

Powerful blast destroys American Academy in Paris

Powerful blast destroys American Academy in Paris 

At least 24 people were injured in the explosion

A powerful explosion blew out the facades of buildings in Paris on Wednesday, causing multiple casualties. Local officials say the blast was caused by a gas leak.

Video footage shows the street-facing side of the Paris American Academy – a leading fashion design school – collapsed and on fire. Firefighters believe that the explosion originated within the academy building.

The blast ripped through a street in Paris’ upscale 5th Arrondissement, leaving the road strewn with rubble. Flames poured from broken windows and a column of black smoke could be seen from several kilometers away. Two buildings beside the academy were "weakened," firefighters said.

In a post on Twitter, local counsellor Edouard Civel said that a “gas explosion” had occurred, and called on the public to avoid the area while firefighters worked to extinguish the resulting blaze.

At least four people were critically hurt and 20 others suffered more minor injuries, France’s BFMTV broadcaster reported. The network noted that these figures were based on “a provisional assessment” of the situation.

One witness who manages a restaurant near the blast site told BFMTV that his building was “destroyed.” The structure is “completely in flames,” the witness said, adding that the explosion “destroyed the facades” of other nearby businesses. 

The fire was contained after several hours, and firefighters continued to search the rubble for survivors as of Wednesday evening.