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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 09:32 GMT
French apartment blast kills 17
Scene of the blast in Mulhouse
It is said to have been the worst such blast in France in 30 years
At least 17 people have died in a suspected gas explosion that ripped through an apartment block in Mulhouse, north-eastern France, on Sunday.

Some 30 people are believed to have been living in the four-storey building, part of which collapsed in the blast. Several are still missing.

More than 100 firemen with sniffer dogs combed the ruins overnight and pulled out eight dead bodies.

Rescuers have not yet abandoned hopes of finding survivors in the rubble.

Mulhouse mayor Jean-Marie Bockel said the blast was caused by a gas leak on the ground floor or first floor of the building.

Built in 1964, the building had recently undergone renovation.

"It is very unlikely survivors will be found, given the scale of the damage, but we can always hope and believe there might be, because in this sort of accident there is always a survival zone," said one fireman.





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