March 20, 2023

A fire invaded a residential building in an impoverished town near the southeastern French city of Lyon leading to the death of ten people including five children at the rang of 3 to 15 on Friday .

Another four were seriously injured in the blaze in Vaulx-en-Velin, which started around 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) on the ground floor before spreading up the seven-storey building, rescue authorities said.Footage on social media showed a huge, dark cloud billowing above the building at the time of the fire before it was extinguished after daybreak.

Victims cry for help and screams alerted sleeping nearby witnesses stating that they felt helpless as they stood at the foot of the building on fire, the smoke too thick for them to get in and try to rescue residents before firefighters arrived.”At around 3.30 a.m., I heard shouting so I ran out of my home…I saw the building, number 12, on my left burning on the ground floor…and people trying to get out,” said Furkan Bag, a neighbour and restaurant owner.

He also saw a woman jumping out of a window to escape the flames and smoke, and falling to her death. “The fire was growing bigger and bigger … it was at the entrance of the building, they (rescuers) could not get in.”

Lyon prosecutor’s office opened an investigation to determine how the fire broke out, and said it could not rule out any hypothesis including arson.Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who visited the site of the fire on Friday, confirmed there was drug dealing – and squatting by drug dealers – in several spots along that street, including within the building hit by the blaze. According to him,police had arrested drug dealers in that building overnight.

“There had been reports of drug dealing but it’s too early to draw conclusions” on what caused the fire, Darmanin said.

Marvelous Ogidi

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