2 killed, dozens injured in Paris bakery explosion

by IANS |

Paris   :  Two firefighters died and dozens were injured after a gas leak led to an explosion at a bakery in central Paris on Saturday, officials said.

The blast took place at 9.10 a.m. (local time) at the bakery on Rue de Trevise in the 9th arrondissement of the French capital as firefighters were responding to reports of the leak, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner was cited as saying by the BBC.

The police had originally said four people died, before revising down the death count. Thirty seven people were injured, 10 seriously, including a firefighter. 

"Profound sadness. Standing by the families of victims. The nation shares in their pain," Castaner tweeted.

He visited the scene with Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and the city's Mayor Anne Hidalgo and said the situation was under control. He wrote earlier on Twitter that the toll of victims "will be heavy".

The explosion caused windows to shatter in the vicinity and glass to rattle over a larger area, while significant damage to the surrounding buildings and shops was visible on the streets, Efe news reported.

Pictures from the scene showed smashed windows and scattered debris across the street, as fire crews evacuated people from apartments above the bakery.

"At this stage, we can tell the origin of the explosion is accidental, a gas leak, but we should remain prudent as an ongoing investigation will determine the causes of this," said Prosecutor Rémy Heitz.

The police advised the public to stay away from the area and to make space for emergency vehicles.

Jean, a young man who lives in front of the bakery, told Efe news that several windows in his house were smashed after a rumble in the streets in a scene "that looked like an earthquake".

The incident occurred as new anti-government protests were being held in Paris and other French cities.

Some 80,000 police officers were due to be on duty on Saturday as "yellow vest" demonstrators keep up their pressure protest, even though the Paris explosion was not thought to be connected with the demonstrations.

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