A blast ripped through a street in the busy Latin Quarter of central Paris on Wednesday, injuring about 30 people, starting fires, and collapsing the facade of a building housing a design school popular with foreign students.

Rescue workers were searching for two missing people feared buried under rubble, authorities said.

Witnesses described a deafening explosion and a giant fireball that rose several stories high on the Rue Saint-Jacques, in the 5th arrondissement not far from the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral and Luxembourg Gardens.

Rubble from the building in which the Paris American Academy is located lay strewn across the street.

At least 37 people were injured, including four who are in critical condition, police said.

Soldiers helped secure a safety perimeter around the scene.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said it was too early to say what caused the blast.

But the local deputy mayor, Edouard Civel, referred to a gas explosion in a Twitter post and witnesses told BFM TV there had been a strong smell of gas moments before the blast.

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