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Third person confirmed dead following powerful explosion at Paris bakery

Around 200 firefighters were mobilised to battle a fire at the bakery before the explosion happened.
Jan 12th 2019, 8:38 AM 44,358 17

Updated Jan 12th 2019, 2:35 PM

paris Firefighters work at the scene of the explosion in Paris this morning. Source: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP/Press Association Images

A SPANISH WOMAN has been named as the latest person to have been killed following a powerful gas explosion at a Paris bakery earlier today.

The explosion badly damaged the bakery in centre of the French capital, with the interior minister confirming that 47 people were injured, 10 of whom are in a critical condition. 

Earlier, minister Christophe Castaner told reporters at the scene that a total of four people, including two firefighters, were killed.

Castaner later corrected himself in a tweet, confirming that just two firefighters had died.

However, Spain’s foreign ministry confirmed that a Spanish woman is also among those to have been killed, bringing the death toll to three people.

A fire broke out after the blast at around 9am (8am Irish time) in the busy 9th district of the city, which police suspect was caused by a gas leak.

Around 200 firefighters were mobilised to battle the fire and rescue residents in neighbouring buildings, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters at the scene.

Police closed off streets in front of the Opera theatre as emergency services landed two helicopters in the street, apparently to evacuate victims.

“The toll appears to be high, and severe,” Castaner said, adding that 100 police officers were blocking off several streets in the area, home to restaurants and tourist attractions like the Musee Grevin wax museum and the popular Rue des Martyrs.

“I was sleeping and woke up by the blast wave,” Claire Sallavuard, who lives on the Rue de Trevise where the explosion occurred, told AFP.

“All the windows in the apartment exploded, doors were blown off their hinges, I had to walk on the door to leave the room, all the kids were panicking, they couldn’t get out of their room,” she said.

Rescuers eventually used a ladder to evacuate the family, who lived on the first floor.

Police sources said firefighters had already been responding to an alert of a gas leak at the site when the explosion occurred.

Cars were overturned by the blast and glass and rubble was strewn across large swathes of the street, as fire trucks and police continued to race toward the scene more than an hour later.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe also attended the scene to survey the damage.

‘Like an earthquake’ 

“There was an explosion in a bakery, it was accidental,” Sylvain Maillard, deputy mayor of the 9th Arrondissement where the blast took place, told BFM television.

“There is heavy damage, lots of broken windows, and the bakery was totally gutted,” he said.

glass Broken glass near the scene of the blast. Source: ABACA/PA Images

Dozens of tourists, suitcases in hand, were evacuated from the many nearby hotels in the area, a popular weekend shopping destination for locals and visitors alike. Other residents were in bathrobes or quickly dressing in the street as police helicopters circled overhead.

“We were sleeping when we heard the noise, it sounded like an earthquake,” a teenager who lives on a nearby street told AFP.

The blast came with the city on edge ahead of expected protests by ‘yellow vest’ anti-government demonstrations, which have descended into violence and vandalism in Paris and other cities in recent weeks.

The central Place de la Concorde and surrounding areas are locked down by police barricades, as thousands of officers stand guard on the Champs-Elysees and other areas where protesters have previously clashed with security forces.

© AFP 2019 , with reportng from AP and Órla Ryan

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