A blast in Rue Saint-Jacques, in a Parisian building hosting a design school and the local Catholic education system headquarters has injured 37 people, 4 of them being in critical condition, and one still considered missing.

Authorities say the cause of the blast is undetermined, but witnesses report that there was a strong smell of gas before it happened. The area is known for a large student population, and several of them have recounted their experiences. One of them said:

I was in front of the Val de Grâce

“I was in front of the Val de Grâce, I heard a huge boom and I saw a ball of fire 20 or 30 meters high. And the building collapsed with a huge noise. I smelled gas, but took several minutes to come to my senses.”

Antoine Brouchot, a witness who lived nearby, says:

“I stuck my head out of the window and looked towards Conchin [hospital], then I saw a big cloud of smoke and as I got closer, there was a building that had collapsed and for the moment, there is a fire.”

Prosecutor Laure Beccau reported that checks of the surveillance camera footage suggests the explosion happened within the building, and police Chief Laurent Nunez said that the initial blaze covered the whole building, but was controlled later on.

Paris’s deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire said that one of two missing people have been found, and that the search is not over, reassuring families.

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