PARIS - A strong explosion hit a building in Paris' Left Bank on Wednesday, leaving at least 16 injured and igniting a fire that sent smoke soaring over city monuments and prompted the evacuation of surrounding buildings, police said.
The cause of the blast was not immediately known.The facade of a building in the 5th arrondissement, or district, collapsed and emergency services were working to determine if anyone was still inside, a Paris police official said.
The explosion hit near the historic Val de Grace military hospital.Paris police chief Laurent Nunez told reporters there were 16 people injured, including seven in "emergency condition." The authorities did not specify whether the injured were in life-threatening condition.The fire was contained but not extinguished, Nunez said.Police take security measures as firefighters arrive in the area after the massive explosion in Paris, France on June 21, 2023. (Photo by Firas Abdullah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) Florence Berthout, mayor of the arrondissement, said, "The explosion was extremely violent," describing pieces of glass still falling from buildings.The police official described several injuries, some of them critical, but did not provide an exact figure as emergency workers continued their search.READ MORE: American woman pushed into ravine near German castle released from hospitalThe smell of smoke lingered in the air while the gray plume visibly lessened as firefighters battled the blaze.