Three people killed after gas explosion in Paris

January 12, 2019

Three people have died and nearly 50 injured after a suspected gas leak triggered an explosion at a bakery in Paris.

Two firefighters and a Spanish woman were killed, while 10 people were in a critical condition and 37 others suffered less serious injuries.

The Spanish woman was apparently a tourist who was staying in a hotel near the bakery where the explosion took place.

It was previously reported that four people were killed, including two firefighters.

France's Prefecture de Police said the blast occurred in Rue de Trevise, in the 9th arrondissement, north-central Paris.

Several buildings in the surrounding area were damaged and pictures of the scene showed a large amount of debris strewn in the street, about a mile north of the Notre-Dame cathedral.

Windows were blasted out of neighbouring shops and apartments and cars were overturned. Broken glass was seen scattering the pavements nearby.

Pictures showed at least one casualty on a stretcher being taken away by emergency services from the scene, where about 200 firefighters were in attendance.

Sky's Alistair Bunkall, who was at the scene of the blast, said: "The Pompiers and the Gendarmerie are here in large numbers. It's pretty chaotic at the moment, in terms of the cordon and what went on.

"A bakery might suggest it is a gas explosion but when you have Paris on high alert here, because of the Gilets Jaunes protests - police are out in the thousands - it really adds to the complexity of what is already a highly charged policing operation.

"Lots of reports of casualties but whether the reports of fatalities are accurate, we don't know yet."

A tourist who was in the street at the time with a group of others said: "In the middle of nothing, I heard this big explosion.

"A lot of pressure came out of it, a lot of black smoke and glass. I just had time to get down and cover myself and my head. I felt a lot of things fall on me.

"I was in panic. Fortunately, I know my hotel well, so I ran. I don't know what I stepped on. I just ran.

"I've spoken to my clients and a few of them got injured in the head. They were bleeding."

Interior minister Christophe Castaner said: "The toll appears to be high, and severe."

Police have closed off streets the Opera theatre in order to land two helicopters in the street, apparently to evacuate victims.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said many residents and tourists have been evacuated from neighbouring buildings and hotels and the city was providing temporary accommodation for those affected.

Meanwhile, more than 50 people were arrested during a ninth straight weekend of "yellow vest" protests against French President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms.

Police fired water cannon and tear gas to repel Gilets Jaunes demonstrators who gathered around the Arc de Triomphe monument. Some activists were detained for carrying objects that could be used as weapons.

Thousands of protesters also marched noisily but peacefully through the Grands Boulevards shopping area in northern Paris close to the site of the bakery explosion.

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