PARIS – A powerful gas explosion at a bakery has rocked central Paris early Saturday, killing three people and leaving dozens injured, officials said.
Two firefighters were killed in the blast, and at least 10 of the injured were in critical condition after a suspected gas leak fire that was being attended to suddenly result in a large detonation, officials said.
“At this hour, two firefighters from the Paris fire brigade have died,” said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. “10 people are in critical condition, including a firefighter.”
French authorities later confirmed to Spain’s foreign ministry that a Spanish woman who had been seriously injured in the explosion had died of her injuries.
“Some 37 people are in injured,” said Castaner, who had been to the scene of the accident. “Immense sadness. Support for the families of the victims. The Nation bows its head to their pain.”
Earlier, the minister had said that more than 200 Paris firefighters had been engaged in emergency operations and authorities had said that four people had died in the blast, but this number was then downgraded.
The blast caused masonry to fall and windows to shatter in the vicinity, producing significant damage to the surrounding buildings, shops and cars in the street, while glass rattled over a larger periphery of the city, as EFE was able to verify at the scene of the blast.
“Ongoing, Paris firefighters are tackling a fire at a business establishment in Rue Trevise in the 9th arrondissement of north-central Paris that was followed by a strong explosion,” Paris police said in a statement. “Avoid the area and allow the passage to emergency vehicles.”
A large column of smoke was visible from many points of the French capital and was still billowing more than an hour after the blast.
Jean, a young man who lives in front of the bakery and who declined to give his surname, told EFE that several windows in his house have been smashed after a rumble was flung into the streets in a scene “that looked like an earthquake.”