A large explosion rocked a chemistry school in eastern France on Friday, killing one person and injuring another, authorities said.

Preliminary indications were that the explosion was not caused by a bomb or act of terrorism.

The blast occurred on the ground floor of the Superior National School of Chemistry in Mulhouse, near France's border with Germany, and was followed by a fire, officials said.

The surrounding area was evacuated.

Teachers were counting students to determine whether there were any other casualties, France-Info radio reported from the scene.

"We thought it was an earthquake," a resident identified as Jean-Pierre Langer told TF1 television. "It really shook."