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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Immigrants die in new Paris fire
Firefighter tackling Paris blaze, 29 Aug 05
More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze
A fire has killed seven people - including four children - in a building housing African immigrants in Paris, just days after a similar lethal blaze.

Officials say about 12 families from Ivory Coast were living there in deplorable conditions. The blaze happened in the central Marais area.

On Friday, 17 West Africans died in another Paris apartment block fire, and a similar blaze killed 24 in April.

The government has now ordered a review of housing policy for immigrants.

President Jacques Chirac expressed sadness at the latest fire and ordered an inquiry.

It broke out at 2200 (2000 GMT) on Monday and firefighters took 90 minutes to control it.

A child who jumped from a window in the building died in hospital. Six other bodies were found in the ruins.

Man carrying girl at scene of fire
Most of the building's residents survived the blaze
Friday's deadly fire - also in a building used by African immigrants - provoked street protests in Paris.

Fourteen of the 17 who died in that blaze were children.

Members of the African community took to the streets over the weekend, urging the authorities to provide better housing for immigrants.

They were joined by left-wing activists and pressure groups who accused French leaders of neglect.

Conditions 'unacceptable'

Some 100 firefighters and 30 vehicles were used to control the latest fire, which is said to have started in the lower part of the building - reportedly an old squat.

Fourteen people were injured, three of them seriously, fire officials said.

The cause of the fire is not known.

Pierre Aidenbaum, the mayor of the third district, said he had been dealing with the building "for many years now, telling the police headquarters about the living conditions, because I considered the conditions to be totally unacceptable".

He said the building's 40 residents were to have been relocated in September to allow for renovation work.

Housing crisis

In all three lethal blazes that hit African immigrants the flames spread quickly from the stairwell to the dilapidated wooden interiors of the apartments, the French news agency AFP reports.

According to the French lobby group Right to Housing, only 60,000 apartments or houses are being built in the public sector each year - half the amount needed, the BBC's Mike Sanders reports.

The group accuses the authorities of failing to requisition empty private accommodation to house those on the waiting lists.

But Paris City Hall says that in the past four years it has identified 1,000 private apartment blocks to refurbish or replace. It says it has already renovated some 300 of them, twenty times as many as in the preceding period.

Reacting to the latest fire, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said "we must close down all these squats and all these buildings, to prevent such tragedies."

1. 15 April: Blaze at Paris-Opera hotel kills 24
2. 26 August: Fire in 13th district kills 17, including 14 children
3. 30 August: Seven die in Marais fire, including four children

See firefighters tackling the blaze

In pictures: Paris blaze
30 Aug 05 |  In Pictures
Country profile: France
05 Jul 05 |  Country profiles

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