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Another deadly blaze hits housing project near Paris

PARIS -- A fire tore through a high-rise apartment building east of Paris early today, killing at least 12 people and injuring 16, firefighters said.

The blaze, the fourth deadly fire in the Paris area since April, broke out in the entrance hall of a 15-story housing project in Val-de-Marne, east of the capital, the local fire squad said. The fire was quickly extinguished, but people had died from toxic smoke.

About 200 firefighters rushed to the scene after the fire began before dawn in the town of L'Hay-les-Roses, and medical teams set up a treatment site.

At least nine people were seriously injured, said Alain Antonini, a spokesman for the local fire brigade. Several were rushed to hospitals.

On Friday, about 140 squatters were evacuated from two dilapidated Paris buildings after recent fires killed dozens of African immigrants and put the issue of substandard housing on the national agenda. An arson investigation into one of the fires has begun.

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