Paris ‘gas explosion’ causes casualties in city centre

Firefighters carry an injured person after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris on January 12, 20 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Firefighters could be seen evacuating an injured person

Firefighters have been tackling a blaze in a business in the centre of Paris after a powerful explosion which injured at least 20 people, police say.

Cars were wrecked and other buildings were damaged by the blast on Rue de Trévise in the 9th Arrondissement.

Police suspect a gas leak caused the explosion which occurred in a bakery around 09:00 (08:00 GMT).

They have asked people to stay away from the area, to allow emergency services access.

In the immediate aftermath, smashed cars and debris from other shop fronts littered the street in front of the burning bakery as people stood around, looking stunned by the force of the explosion.

Visiting the scene, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the situation was now under control.

Paris and other French cities have been bracing themselves for a new round of anti-government protests by “yellow vest” demonstrators, with 80,000 police officers due to be on duty on Saturday – although the explosion is not thought to be connected with the demonstrations.

What happened?

The Hubert bakery at No 6 Rue de Trévise was not due to be open at the time of the blast, Le Parisien newspaper reports.

A gas leak had been reported in the building and firefighters had been on their way to deal with it when the explosion occurred.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Firefighters were reportedly hurt in the blast

Several firefighters are believed to be among the 20 people hurt, nine of whom were seriously injured, police sources say.

Helicopters landed on the nearby Place de l’Opéra to evacuate the injured, Reuters news agency reports.

A passing journalist, Emily Molli, described the force of the blast and vast extent of the damage.

A resident named Killian was asleep when the explosion blew in his windows. Everybody in the building came downstairs, he said, and he could hear screaming.

The blast also destroyed a theatre, he told French news channel BFMTV.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption At least 20 people were hurt

Paula Nagui, a receptionist at the nearby Diva Hotel, said there had been an “enormous blast” that shattered all the windows.

Anxious guests had received assurances that it was not a terror attack, she told Le Parisien.

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