Europe

Seven die in fire in immigrant hostel in Dijon, France

Aftermath of the fire in Dijon (14 November 2010)
Image caption Several people jumped out of windows to escape the blaze in Dijon

Seven people have been killed and 11 seriously injured by a fire in a nine-storey hostel housing immigrants in the eastern French city of Dijon.

One person died after jumping from the seventh floor of the building, while the other six died from the effects of smoke inhalation.

More than 130 people were evacuated from the building, many also suffering from smoke inhalation.

An investigation into the cause of blaze has been launched.

Spread rapidly

Two of the dead were from Senegal, one was Algerian and another Vietnamese. The other three were French nationals.

"For the moment we are not describing what happened as a crime," senior prosecutor, Eric Lallement, said.

Firefighters said the blaze began in a rubbish bin in an adjacent building at around 0130 (0030 GMT).

It is said to have spread rapidly from there to the side of the hostel.

Insulation in the building helped the blaze spread and also generated large amounts of smoke, fire brigade Commander Jean-Louis Marc told Agence France-Presse news agency.

The thick, acrid smoke prevented many of the residents from escaping.

"Some people jumped out of windows," Mr Marc added.

An official from the mayor's office in Dijon told Reuters news agency: "The winds were unfavourable, blowing the flames against the wall of the building."

A number of children were among those receiving medical treatment after the fire. Three of the 93 firefighters who battled the blaze also suffered from smoke inhalation.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux is expected to visit the scene of the blaze on Sunday afternoon.

Immigration Minister Eric Besson said: "Last night's fire shocks me because it affected people and families that France has welcomed in, and who were bringing to our country not only their work, but also the richness of their cultures and their origins."

The hostel is managed by the state-owned company, Adoma, which specialises in housing facilities for immigrants, according to AFP.

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