French authorities have said at least ten people, including five children died after a nighttime fire ravaged an eight-story apartment building in one of the city of Lyon’s poorest suburbs.
The cause of the blaze — the country’s deadliest in years — is under investigation, including to establish whether it had a criminal origin.
A further 14 people were injured in the tragedy in the small suburban town of Vaulx-en-Velin, four of them seriously, according to the prefecture for the Rhone region. Some 170 firefighters were mobilized after flames tore through the center of the modern apartment block shortly.
According to source, describe scenes, including residents smashing windows to try to climb out of the building, and one mother throwing her child out of the window to be safely caught by a person on the ground.
Newsmen at the scene saw several fire trucks and a security perimeter set up around the area, and residents and traumatized neighbors with their children assembling in a car park opposite the building.
Counseling centers have been set up in two local schools, authorities said. Lyon academy rector Olivier Dugrip said that pupils from these schools were among the victims of the fire.
Vaulx-en-Velin, a small town of 43,000 inhabitants, is among the most impoverished areas in the Rhone region.