French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the death toll from the blast, which also wounded about 30 people, was still “provisional,” according to the French Interior Minister, who told reporters it was a “historic tragedy for the region.”
The explosion occurred during the night at around 1:30 a.m. local time, causing a fire in a small two-story building located on Main Street, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.
Colonel Alexandre Trani, head of fire and rescue operations in the western Pyrenees, told BFMTV that one person was missing and added that there was a “strong possibility” that the missing person was within what was left of the building.
He said firefighters were assessing whether the structure was stable enough to begin searching through the rubble for the missing person, adding that the process was “very, very complicated given the stability of the building.”
Trani added that another person who suffered “serious burns” in the accident was taken to a specialized center.
He confirmed to BFMTV that while the fire was put out in the early hours of the morning, some hot spots remained until mid-afternoon.
An investigation has been opened into the accident, according to Prosecutor Jean-David Cavaye, who said the reason behind this was the use of gas cylinders.
A photo published by Olivier Dusupt, the French minister in charge of public accounts, who traveled to the scene of the explosion appeared to show the charred wreckage of the building.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. The state is here for them,” Dusupet said.
Darmanin told BFMTV that her injuries were both physical and psychological.
“On behalf of the homeland, I offer all my support and all my solidarity with the families and loved ones of the victims,” Darmanin added on Twitter.
Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque is a village in the Pyrenees-Orientales region in southwestern France.