French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday ordered officials to examine and improve fire safety measures after seven immigrants, including four children, died in a blaze Monday night in a run-down building in Paris, three days after 17 immigrants were killed in a similar tragedy.
Chirac expressed concern following news of the latest fire, offered his condolences to bereaved families and ordered a prompt investigation into what he called "another dreadful fire."
"What seems to me to be vital today, after this second drama, is that we, together with all the relevant authorities . . . take the measures needed to avoid dramas such as this," he said during a visit to the city of Reims, northeast of Paris.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin would shortly announce strong new measures, Chirac said. The prime minister's office said an official inquiry into the fire was underway.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said he had asked police to close dilapidated buildings in the city. Sarkozy did not say where the government would put the thousands of immigrants who would be displaced by such an action.
Firefighters struggled for an hour to bring Monday's blaze under control after it broke out in the stairwell of a building in the historic Marais district, fire officials said.
Some terrified residents jumped from windows to escape the flames.
A fire brigade spokesman said six people died at the scene, and a hospital spokeswoman said a child who fell from the building died of injuries.
Five firefighters were among 13 people injured. Two people were in serious condition.
Immigrants' rights groups and opposition politicians have accused the government of complacency over housing conditions since a fire in April killed 24 people at a Paris hotel used by immigrants.
Pierre Aidenbaum, mayor of the Paris district where Monday's fire broke out, told France-Info radio that about a dozen families from Ivory Coast had lived in the building.
"These people were living in unacceptable and dangerous circumstances," he said.
Officials said the city had bought the building but had been unable to offer housing to the residents pending a major refurbishment.
City authorities said more than 100,000 immigrant and poor families sought public housing in Paris last year, an increase of about 15,000 from a decade ago.