Published on : Saturday, February 29, 2020
The historic Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris has been evacuated as firefighters attempt to undertake a huge fire in the city’s centre, French police have confirmed. The video footage shows a row of electric scooters ablaze next to the transportation hub and thick smoke billowing into the sky of southeastern part of Paris.
The officers said the blaze was under control by nightfall – however flames could still be seen rising from the street alongside the station, which sits on the banks of the Seine river.
A police official, who was not authorised to be named publicly, said the blaze began after someone set fire to a scooter during an unauthorised concert near the train station, with the flames quickly spreading to other vehicles nearby.
The local media reported the blaze may be linked to protests against congolese rapper Fally Ipupa, who was set to perform at the nearby AccorHotels Arena in the Bercy area.
The performer has been the subject of criticism from opponents of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government, who accuse the musician of being close to former authoritarian leader Joseph Kabila and his successor Felix Tshisekedi.
The civil authorities in France had banned protests outside the event, adding that roughly 100 people had still attended the scene to voice opposition. It comes almost year after the fire at Notre Dame ripped apart the historic structure in the heart of the city.
The French police have arrested more than 54 people after officers had to evacuate the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris when a major fire broke out on a nearby street. The commuters and holidaymakers were told to leave the building, which handles some 90 million passengers a year, after the blaze started soon after 6pm on Friday at the height of the evening rush hour.
The riot police had been called to the area after opponents of the regime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo started demonstrating against a concert by the singer Fally Ipupa. The 42-year-old performer is a supporter of Congolese president Felix Tshilombo and there is a large opposition movement against him based in Paris.
It is thought that the bins and scooters were set alight during the demonstration and footage from the scene showed huge clouds of black smoke billowing over the busy station.