Dozens in­jured in ex­plo­sion

▶ Two fire­fight­ers and a tourist killed in Paris gas blast

Global Times - - WORLD -

A pow­er­ful gas ex­plo­sion tore through a build­ing in cen­tral Paris on Satur­day killing a Span­ish woman and two fire­fight­ers hailed as he­roes by French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron. Dozens more were in­jured in the blast, which also badly dam­aged nearby apart­ments, of­fi­cials said.

Around 200 fire­fight­ers were mo­bi­lized to bat­tle the fire that broke out af­ter the ex­plo­sion 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 road.

As well as the three dead, 47 peo­ple were in­jured in the blast, 10 of them se­ri­ously, the Paris pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said.

The two fire­fight­ers who died were aged 27 and 28, the of­fice added.

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.

Macron tweeted his con­do­lences to the “fam­i­lies, loved ones and com­rades of the two hero fire­fight­ers,” adding that his thoughts were with all the vic­tims.

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.

Po­lice also closed off streets in front of the Garnier Opera house as emer­gency ser­vices landed two he­li­copters in front of the his­toric build­ing to evac­u­ate vic­tims.

The ex­plo­sion oc­curred shortly af­ter 9:00 am in a build­ing that housed a bak­ery as well as a restau­rant on the ground floor. The cause was thought to be ac­ci­den­tal, “but at this stage we do not ex­clude any hy­poth­e­sis,” Paris pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor Remy Heitz added.

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