Eleven people are missing after a fire broke out in a holiday cottage in eastern France, local authorities said on Wednesday, August 8.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said there were likely several casualties after the fire ravaged the cottage, which was hosting a group of disabled people.
The fire broke out at 6.30am local time in the town of Wintzenheim, a town in the Haut-Rhin department in north-eastern France, 15 miles from the German border.
Seventeen people were evacuated, one of which was sent to hospital, and the flames are understood to have been quickly brought under control.
However, authorities said 11 people were still missing, with search and rescue efforts on hold until the building could be made safe enough to enter.
‘A fire took place early this morning in a structure welcoming disabled people in Wintzenheim, in the Haut-Rhin,’ Darmanin wrote on Twitter.
‘Despite the rapid and courageous intervention of the firefighters whom I salute, several victims are to be deplored. The intervention continues.’
Officials added that the terrible blaze tore through roughly 300 square metres of the 500 square metre building.
Local media reported that a total of 76 firefighters, four fire engines, and four ambulances were mobilized to contain the horrific blaze and treat the victims.
40 cops were also sent out to help.
A spokesperson for the Haut-Rhin prefecture said: ‘The fire was quickly brought under control despite the violence of the flames.
’17 people were evacuated. There is 1 person in relative emergency evacuated to the hospital and 1 shocked person. 11 people from the group of adults from Nancy are missing and still on call,’ they added.
The deputy mayor, present at the site, told reporters that the fire likely started on the ground floor in an old renovated barn converted into a gîte (self-service accommodation typically found in France’s rural districts).