Toll in Paris hotel blaze rises

The toll in a fire that swept through a hotel in central Paris has reached 21 after the body of a woman was retrieved from the charred rubble, police said.

    The death toll from the hotel fire rose to 21 on Saturday

    Police on Saturday continued to search the ruins of the six-story one-star

    Paris-Opera hotel, occupied mainly by immigrant families, for clues

    of what caused the blaze overnight on Thursday.

    Six of the dead have been formally identified, police said. They

    include an African woman and her two children - aged five and one

    and a half - a Senegalese man who died after jumping out of a hotel

    window and a Turkish couple.

    Ten children were among the dead, while 33 people were still in

    hospital on Saturday.

    A previous toll said 11 people had been seriously injured and

    another 42 suffered minor injuries.

    The inferno, the deadliest in the French capital in 32 years,

    destroyed the hotel, behind the upmarket Galeries Lafayette

    department store and near the historic Garnier opera house.

    Investigation starts

    As an inquiry got under way, police said the cause of the fire

    at the budget hotel - used both as temporary public housing for

    needy families and by bargain-hunting tourists - was "undoubtedly

    accidental."

    There was no evidence that the
    incident was an arson

    There was no evidence "that would lead us to think this was

    arson". Investigators think the early-morning fire could have

    started in a first-floor room with a microwave.

    Among the injured were French, Senegalese, Portuguese, Ivorian,

    American, Ukrainian and Tunisian nationals. No information was

    immediately available about the identities of the dead.

    In Tunis TAP news agency said four Tunisian nationals - a

    couple and their two children - were slightly injured in the fire

    and taken to two hospitals.

    Officials said that in addition to a handful of tourists, 79 people

    were staying at the 32-room hotel in rooms rented by the city

    and charitable organizations for families in need

    .

    SOURCE: AFP


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