International

3 killed in Paris gas leak blast

3 killed in Paris gas leak blast
Medical staff and firefighters tend to a wounded man at the scene of a gas leak explosion in Paris, France. (AP)
Paris, Jan 12 (AFP) | Publish Date: 1/12/2019 11:46:53 AM IST

A powerful gas explosion tore through a building in central Paris on Saturday, killing two firefighters and a Spanish woman, injuring dozens of people and badly damaging nearby apartments, officials said.

Around 200 firefighters were mobilised to battle the fire that broke out after the blast and evacuate victims and residents in the area, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters at the scene.

The explosion came with the city on edge during the latest “yellow vest” anti-government demonstrations, which have often degenerated into violence and vandalism in Paris and other cities in recent weeks.

Cars were overturned by the blast and glass and rubble was strewn across large swathes of the street after the explosion gutted the lower part of the building. Dozens of residents were treated by rescue workers on the street.

Besides the two dead firefighters, 47 other people were injured in the blast, 10 of them seriously, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

A source in the Spanish foreign ministry said a woman who was holidaying with her husband in Paris died in hospital after the blast while another Spanish national was also injured.

Around 100 police officers blocked off several streets in the area, home to restaurants and tourist attractions including the Musee Grevin wax museum and the popular Rue des Martyrs.

The explosion occurred shortly after 9:00 am (local time) in building that housed a bakery as well as a restaurant on the ground floor in the Ninth Arrondissement.

“It happened when there were people in the street, and firefighters inside,” the interior minister said.

Firefighters had been responding to an alert of a gas leak at the site when the explosion occurred, Paris prosector Remy Heitz said at the scene. “First there was a gas leak and the firefighters arrived, then there was an explosion that caused the fire,” Heitz said.

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