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LYON

At least 13 hurt in suspected package bomb blast in centre of Lyon

At least 13 people - including an 8-year-old girl - were wounded on Friday by a suspected package bomb blast on a pedestrian street in the heart of Lyon, southeast France.

At least 13 hurt in suspected package bomb blast in centre of Lyon
All Photos: AFP

The area where the explosion occurred, on the narrow strip of land between the Saone and Rhone rivers in the historic city centre, has been evacuated, according to AFP journalists at the scene.

Police have released this CCTV footage of the man they want to speak to

According to reports in the French press a man was seen arriving in the area on a bike before leaving some kind of package or suitcase at the scene. The man has not been arrested and is the subject of a police manhunt.

 

 

A police source told AFP the package contained “screws or bolts” and had been placed in front of a bakery on the corner of the two popular streets.

Police said that none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening.

President Emmanuel Macron called the blast an “attack” during a live Facebook interview, adding that no deaths had been reported “for the time being.”

“It's not for me to give a toll but it appears there are no casualties. There have been injuries, so obviously I'm thinking of these injured and their families,” Macron said

“An eight-year-old girl was wounded…. We're fairly relieved because apparently there were no serious injuries but on the other hand, we are certain it was an explosive device,” said Denis Broliquier, mayor of the city's Second Arrondissement.

He said the suspect sought by police had been seen on video surveillance cameras.

“There was an explosion and I thought it was a car crash,” said Eva, a 17-year-old student who was about 15 metres (50 feet) from the site of the blast.

“There were bits of electric wire near me, and batteries and bits of cardboard and plastic. The windows were blown out,” he said.

A terrorism probe has been opened by the Paris prosecutor's office, which has jurisdiction over all terror cases in the country.

France has been on high alert following a wave of deadly jihadist terror attacks since 2015 which have killed more than 250 people.

“It's an area in the very centre of Lyon, a major street,” the city's deputy mayor in charge of security, Jean-Yves Secheresse, told BFM television.

“These areas are highly secured, the police are continually present,” as were patrols by soldiers deployed in a long-running anti-terror operation, he said.

A planned concert by British singer Ed Sheeran went ahead in Lyon, albeit with heightened security.

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EARTHQUAKE

‘1,600 buildings destroyed?’ What could happen if the Swiss canton of Valais is hit by a big earthquake?

Nearly 800 dead, 1,600 buildings destroyed, and 119,000 people become homeless. This is the "worst-case" result of a big earthquake hitting the Swiss canton of Valais according to natural disaster experts.

'1,600 buildings destroyed?' What could happen if the Swiss canton of Valais is hit by a big earthquake?
The Swiss city of Sion in the canton of Valais. Photo: Depositphotos

More than 200 tremors have shaken the canton in early November, and the authorities predict a more sizeable earthquake will hit the area at some point in the coming years or decades.

In a worst case scenario natural disaster experts in Valais believe a 6.5 magnitude earthquake striking between the cities of Sion and Sierre could leave 800 dead, 1,600 buildings destroyed and 119,000 people homeless, according to Thursday’s “Le Nouvelliste” newspaper 

And if this extreme scenario can statistically occur every 475 years, an earthquake of lower magnitude, around 6 on the Richter scale, is likely to occur in Valais in the coming decades, experts say.

According to “Le Nouvelliste”, the canton’s “weak point” is its housing.

Only 10 to 20 percent of the buildings meet the seismic standards established in 2004. But the vast majority were built before this date.

“That does not mean that these buildings will collapse at the slightest jolt, but only that we have doubts about their resistance”, an expert told Le Nouvelliste.

According to the Cantonal Concept Preparation and Response in the Event of an Earthquake (COCPITT), it would take “no less than three generations” for all of Valais structures to be able to withstand a major earthquake.

Meanwhile, the authorities have prioritized public buildings, especially those with high concentrations of people and those serving vital functions, such as hospitals.

While these cantonal buildings of high importance have all been “treated and analysed”, this is not the case for buildings which the canton is renting and whose upgrades are not within its competence, for instance schools.

And the same goes for privately-owned buildings.

“Communes and private individuals are responsible for their constructions. But the law does not require that old buildings be brought up to standard, except in case of renovation”, the cantonal architect Philippe Venetz told Le Nouvelliste.


 

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