PARIS, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The deadly fire in a Paris apartment building housing African immigrants has spurred calls for better housing in the French capital.
At least 17 people, 14 of them children, died in the blaze that broke out early Friday in a stairwell of the dilapidated seven-story building in Paris' 13th district. Another 30 people were injured.
In April, a fire in a hotel also used to house immigrants left 24 dead.
Dogad Dogoui, president of Africagora, an immigrants' aid group, told the BBC the children who were killed Friday were French citizens born in Paris -- "black but French."
"There are no houses in Paris for families with several children," he said. "Maybe this society doesn't accept families with five, seven or eight children."
More than 200 firefighters from 22 stations around the city were called to the scene, helping many of the 130 people in the apartment block to escape. The fire was brought under control after about two hours.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy blamed the death toll on overcrowding, while Social Cohesion and Housing Minister Jean-Louis Borloo promised new housing.
Martine Aubry, an opposition member of Parliament, accused the government of hypocrisy.
"Once again France is waking up to an appalling tragedy, with children asphyxiated and men and women burned," she told the BBC.