The death toll from the blast, which also injured around 30 people, remains “provisional,” according to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who told reporters it was “a historic tragedy for the region.”
The explosion happened overnight at around 1:30 a.m. local time, causing a fire in a small two-story building located on the main street, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.
Colonel Alexandre Trani, head of operations for the fire and rescue service for the Western Pyrenees, told BFMTV that one person was missing and added that there is a “strong possibility” that the missing person is within what remains of the building.
He said firefighters were assessing whether the structure was stable enough to begin searching through the rubble for the missing person, adding the operation was “very, very, very complicated given the stability of the building.”
Trani added that another person who was “seriously burned” in the incident had been transported to a specialist center.
He confirmed to BFMTV that while the fire had been put out in the early hours of the morning, a few hotspots remained as of mid-afternoon.
An investigation into the incident has been opened, according to the public prosecutor Jean-David Cavaillé, who said that gas cylinders may have been the cause.
A photograph shared on Twitter by Olivier Dussopt, the French minister responsible for public accounts, who had traveled to the scene of the explosion, appeared to show the charred wreckage of the building.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. The State is here for them,” Dussopt said.
The injuries suffered were both physical and psychological, Darmanin told BFMTV.
“On behalf of the Nation, I offer all my support and all my solidarity to the families and loved ones of the victims,” Darmanin added on Twitter.
Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque is a village in the Pyrenees-Orientales region of southwest France.