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20 Die in Spectacular Paris Hotel Fire

A fireman carries a young girl who was taken to the infirmary after a fire in a central Paris hotel in the early hours of Friday April, 15 2005
A hotel fire during the night in central Paris has killed at least 20 people, including at least 10 children.

Flames and choking smoke from the fire prompted many people to leap from the six-story Paris-Opera Hotel, a budget-priced lodging across from the Galeries Lafayette department store and near one of Paris' best known landmarks, the 19th-century Garnier opera house.

French President Jacques Chirac says the fire is one of the most distressing tragedies ever in the French capital.

Nearly 60 people are reported to have survived the fast-moving fire, but more than a dozen of them are in critical condition in hospitals. Others were treated on the spot in the Galeries Lafayette, which rescue workers used as a makeshift hospital and morgue.

Many of those in the burned-out hotel had been African immigrants. Reports say the injured come from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Tunisia in Africa, as well as Portugal, Ukraine and the United States.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.