12 Killed, 180 Injured in Blast at French Chemical Plant
Twelve people were killed and 180 injured, 30 of them seriously, in a huge blast that rocked a petrochemical plant in this southwestern French city Friday, authorities said.
Police had earlier said that between 10 and 15 people were killed and some 200 injured in the blast at the AZF plant located near the city center of Toulouse.
Police said the blast took place at the AZF petrochemical plant 10:15 am (0815 GMT), causing major damage. Two buildings at the site collapsed following the blast.
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin immediately headed to Toulouse following the incident.
Police said the cause of the blast was not immediately known. French television said the explosion was apparently accidental.
A large number of people were injured and several were probably killed, police said, but could give no immediate figures.
A huge cloud of smoke was visible over areas of the city and schools were immediately closed. Authorities said the cloud could contain toxic chemicals and urged nearby residents to remain indoors.
Witnesses said the explosion shattered windows in the area near the plant, located three kilometers from the city center -- TOULOUSE, France (AFP)