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Paris explosion caused by suspected gas leak injures dozens, damages buildings, police say

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(PARIS) — Dozens of people were injured and hundreds were sent running for safety in central Paris after an explosion caused by a suspected gas leak rocked the city Wednesday afternoon, according to police and firefighters.

The incident took place around 4:55 p.m. local time at the Paris American Academy on Rue Saint-Jacques, officials said. As of Wednesday night, four people were listed in critical condition, 33 victims were in serious condition and two were unaccounted for, according to French Interior Minister Gérard Darmanin.

“It is possible that we will find bodies or people who are still alive tonight,” he said at a news conference.

The explosion shattered nearby windows and sent thick smoke into the air throughout the afternoon.

Hundreds of firefighters and police raced to the scene as civilians ran for safety. The facade of the building completely collapsed.

Fire department crews were able to contain the fire and search and rescue teams were going through the rubble.

The Paris prosecutor told to ABC News that nearby buildings in the area have been evacuated due to concerns about their structural integrity following the explosion. Police officials told reporters that a preliminary investigation appears to show a suspected gas leak may have been the cause, but the probe is ongoing.

The U.S. Embassy said it was not aware of any Americans involved in the incident.

The school was founded in 1965 and offers teaching in fashion design, interior design, fine arts and creative writing, the Associated Press reported.

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