'Accidental' Paris hotel blaze toll reaches 22

17th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 17 (AFP) - The toll in a fire that swept through a Paris hotel housing mainly immigrant families reached 22 Sunday after the body of a small child was retrieved from the charred rubble, police said.

PARIS, April 17 (AFP) - The toll in a fire that swept through a Paris hotel housing mainly immigrant families reached 22 Sunday after the body of a small child was retrieved from the charred rubble, police said.  

The gender and nationality of the latest victim were not immediately known.  

Thirty-one people including 15 children injured in the blaze early Friday were still in hospital Sunday. Nine people were in serious condition.  

Police continued to search the ruins of the six-story one-star hotel for clues of what caused the blaze.  

Seventy-nine people, most of them Africans, were in the 32-room Paris-Opera hotel when the fire broke out, though it was only licensed to accommodate 61.  

Thirteen of the dead have been formally identified, police said on Saturday, including an African woman and her two young children, a Senegalese man who died after jumping out of a hotel window and a Turkish couple.  

Among the injured were American, French, Ivorian, Portuguese, Senegalese, Ukrainian and Tunisian nationals.   

The inferno, the deadliest in the French capital in 32 years, destroyed the hotel, located behind the upmarket Galleries Lafayette department store and near the historic Garnier opera house.  

Police have 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" rather than caused by arson.  

Investigators believe the early-morning fire could have started in a first-floor room with a microwave.  

Groups campaigning for better treatment of the homeless and immigrants have called for a protest outside the hotel on Monday to demand new housing for the families affected and the issuing of residence permits to those without them.  

The Droit au Logement (Right to Housing) association argued that putting needy families into tourist hotels is a last resort which is expensive for the authorities, and unsuitable and dangerous for homeless families.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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