A powerful explosion in central Paris has left twenty-nine people injured, including four in serious condition.
The blast occurred in a building housing a design school and the headquarters of the Catholic education system in Rue Saint-Jacques, located in the fifth arrondissement of the French capital.
Emergency workers are currently engaged in search and rescue operations, as at least two individuals are believed to be missing under the rubble of the severely damaged building.
Witnesses have reported detecting a strong smell of gas prior to the explosion, indicating a potential gas leak as the cause.
Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau, who arrived at the scene, stated that preliminary analysis of camera footage suggests that the explosion originated within the building. However, authorities have yet to determine the exact cause of the blast.
The building initially caught fire but was eventually brought under control by firefighters, according to Paris police chief Laurent Nunez.
The affected area has been cordoned off, and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is present at the scene. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has issued a warning for people to avoid the area.
Located south of the popular Latin Quarter on the Left Bank, the area where the explosion occurred is frequented by tourists and known for its vibrant student population. As investigations into the incident continue, concerns about the safety and security of the affected neighborhood are mounting.