President Jacques Chirac ordered immediate action on fire safety in France yesterday after a second fatal blaze in less than a week killed seven immigrants.
Three adults and four children living in the squat became the latest victims of a series of fires in Parisian blocks of flats used by African migrants. The deaths in the capital's Marais district led to renewed calls for an overhaul of the city's policy on housing the poor from overseas.
Stories of the squalid living conditions endured by those in the squat, close to some of the city's most fashionable addresses, only heightened the national sense of shame.
A boy aged six died from his injuries after his mother threw him from a fourth-floor window to escape the flames.
Six other bodies were found in the charred remains of the building, which was occupied by 12 families from Ivory Coast, reports Telegraph.
According to Portsmouth Herald, police said they believed the blaze was accidental, noting numerous fire hazards inside. Residents had pirated electricity from a nearby building. Gas cylinders and mattresses cluttered the floors and had fueled the flames, police said.
Just days ago, a deadly blaze killed 17 Africans in Paris. Four months earlier, 24 people died in a fire at a budget hotel where African immigrants lived, focusing new attention on the plight of Paris’ poor.
In that fire, French officials ruled out an electrical short circuit, and raised the possibility Monday that the fire was caused by human actions, suggesting arson or accident. Both buildings were crowded and rundown, official said.
French President Jacques Chirac urged investigators to work diligently to determine the cause of Monday’s fire and said the government would take "strong initiatives" soon to help families in inadequate housing.
"I want to stress how much this situation is unworthy of the natural requirements that we owe to people here in France, whatever their origin or nationality," he said.