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French minister says double plant blast was criminal act

The smoke spreads in the sky from a fire in a tank of the U.S. Lyondellbasell chemicals group refinery, in Berre l'Etang, southern France, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Two parallel explosions have rocked tanks at a chemical plant near Marseille Provence Airport . Authorities have launched an inquiry into the incident which occurred Tuesday morning as the country began celebrations for its national Bastille Day. Some 120 firefighter and 50 vehicles have been deployed to the petrochemical site, LyondellBasell, and air quality authorities are assessing if the fumes pose a threat to the quality of the air in the surrounding areas. There have been no reports of casualities.(AP Photo/Stringer)

PARIS (AP) — France’s interior minister says a double blast in two huge fuel tanks at a petrochemical plant in southern France is of criminal origin.

Bernard Cazeneuve told lawmakers on Wednesday that “the motive has not been established” to explain the explosions Tuesday at the plant near the Marseille Provence Airport.

The double blasts in two tanks 500 meters apart threw plumes of black smoke into the sky visible for miles. No one was injured.

The prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Dominique Moyal, said on iTele TV that the blasts were “quasi-simultaneous,” occurring about three seconds apart, which excludes a natural spreading of the blaze.

The blasts at the site operated by petrochemical company LyondellBasell were initially treated as a “coincidental accident.”

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