17 killed in Paris blaze

A blaze raced through a Paris apartment building housing African immigrants early Friday, killing 17 people, at least half of them children, officials said.

About 30 people were injured, two seriously, officials at the local prefecture said. Many of the victims were from the west African nation of Mali, officials said.

One resident of the seven-story building in southeastern Paris described being awakened by cries from children and adults, then rushing to his window on the building's second floor, the AP reports.

People "jumped out the windows, they didn't care about dying," Oumar Cisse was quoted as saying by the AP.

The fire broke out shortly after midnight in the stairwell of a building, officials said. About 210 firefighters worked for an hour and a half before bringing the blaze under control.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy went to the scene of the blaze, on a major boulevard in the city's 13th district, his ministry said. Police opened an inquiry into the fire, whose cause was unclear.

About 100 children and 30 adults lived in the building, officials said. The building was charred but did not appear to have serious structural damage.

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