At around 5 p.m., a massive explosion destroyed a 4-storey building consisting of 10 flats, killing 17 people and injuring 15 others. Two semi-detached council housing buildings were damaged (10 flats). One hundred firemen intervened, assisted by search and rescue teams: dog-handlers, heavy machinery such as backhoe loaders, etc. A security perimeter was set up. Rescue operations are made difficult by the possibility of residual gas pockets: fire hoses are installed as long as the risk is present. 274 homes were without gas while the premises were secured. The operations continued throughout the night and part of the next day. Families whose homes had been destroyed (60 people) were given the possibility of relocating.

The accident caused a great uproar among the population. Administrative and judicial investigations were initiated to determine the causes of the explosion. The Service du Gaz indicated that an inspection of the system on 10/12/2004, 5 days after an earthquake had occurred, had not revealed any anomalies and that no emergency calls had been received on the day of the accident. Following the report of the court-ordered appraisal presented by the public prosecutor to the families of the victims in December 2005, which spoke of an instantaneous break in the grey cast iron pipe installed 1957, just over 5 m from the building, resulting in a particularly large gas leak, the Service du Gaz was indicted in this case as a legal entity.

After a 3-week trial in March 2009, the Service du Gaz was sentenced in June of the same year. About 120 people, victims or persons close to the victims, filed civil actions. Following the verdict, the Service du Gaz was ordered to pay two fines totalling 232,500 euros. The court found the Service du Gaz guilty of involuntary homicide, injury and property damage through negligence, reckless behaviour and various non-compliances.


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