An explosion ripped off the side of a 5-story residential building in France's Champagne country today, killing at least two people and injuring nine others, officials said. A search for survivors was underway. More than 100 rescue workers, firefighters, sniffer-dog squads and bomb and gas experts were deployed to the gutted building in a subsidized housing complex in the city of Reims, east of Paris, officials said.
One person was seriously injured, said a top local official, noting that the building dated to the 1960s. He said about 10 of the 40 or so apartments in the building were affected. Reims mayor Adeline Hazan told France's BFM television that the explosion had blown out windows of nearby buildings. She said the bodies of the two people killed remained under the rubble. The blast had the earmarks of a possible gas explosion, she said, adding that only a thorough investigation would determine the exact cause. Meanwhile today, the owner of a collapsed Bangladesh building was arrested.