Search still on for woman in collapsed Paris building

Paris emergency responders kept up a search Friday for a woman believed missing in the rubble of a building destroyed two days before in an explosion whose cause remains unknown.

A source close to the search told AFP the missing person is a teacher at the Paris American Academy fashion school, hosted in the building on the south bank of the River Seine in the touristy fifth district.

A security cordon was still stretched around a wide area covering the site of the blast which seriously injured six people.

Workers were meanwhile knocking out damaged windows on the Rue Saint-Jacques and reinforcing neighbouring structures to avoid a further collapse while clearing rubble, police said.Yellow beams were visible holding up the facade of the next building.

A blast and subsequent fire just before 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Wednesday shook the busy Rue Saint-Jacques, demolishing the 17th-century building that was a listed historic monument.

So far the toll numbers six people gravely injured, including three with extensive burns, among a total of around 50 people hurt.

Students were out at the time watching a show as part of the Paris Fashion Week, thereby preventing heavier casualties.

Paris prosecutors are investigating whether the blast was the result of failure to observe safety norms.

“Initial information leads us to confirm that the explosion began inside the building,” prosecutor Laure Beccuau said.

Several eyewitnesses have reported smelling gas on the scene in the minutes before the blast.

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