France fire: Ten people, including five children, die in apartment fire in Lyon

The children who died were aged between three and 15 years old

Policemen form a security perimeter as firefighters battle to put out a blaze in a building in Vaulx-en-Velin, France. AFP
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Ten people, including five children, have died in an apartment fire in France.

Authorities said a “sizeable fire” broke out in a seven-storey block of flats near Lyon, in Vaulx-en-Velin.

The children who died were aged between three and 15 years old, they said.

Four people are in a critical condition while 10 others have minor injuries.

Emergency services were alerted at 3.25am local time.

"I was awakened by the screams," a neighbour, Mohamed, told Le Progres de Lyon newspaper. "We wanted to help people but the smoke was too heavy. I saw a dead woman ... It's dramatic."

Another neighbour, Rida, said: "I told my kid not to go to school, he's shocked. It traumatised him to hear screams like that, screams of horror. My legs are shaking."

In total, 180 firefighters arrived at the scene and the fire was extinguished.

Footage on social media showed a huge, dark cloud billowing above the building earlier in the day.

The fire started on the ground floor before spreading up the seven-storey building, rescue authorities told local media.

Olivier Klein, the Minister-delegate of Cities and Housing for the Borne region, tweeted: “The provisional tally sends chills down your spine.”

Gerard Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, praised the work of the firefighters who rescued people in “extremely difficult conditions”. He said the cause of the fire was still unknown.

“There are several scenarios and a probe will be opened,” he said.

Mr Darmanin called the deadly fire “a shock” and said that he would travel in the coming hours to the town, which is 470 kilometers (290 miles) southeast of Paris.

Mr Darmanin said he was in touch with President Emmanuel Macron over the incident.

Vaulx-en-Velin, a town of 43,000 inhabitants, is among the most impoverished areas in the Rhone region.

It’s the deadliest fire in France since 2019, when an arson attack in a posh Paris district killed 10 people and injured 32 others.

— This is a developing story ...

Updated: December 16, 2022, 9:27 AM