Three dead in Parisian bakery explosion
TWO firefighters and a Spanish woman have been killed and 47 injured in an explosion at a bakery that was apparently caused by a gas leak in central Paris.
Firefighters pulled injured victims from windows and evacuated residents as smoke billowed over Rue de Trevise in the 9th arrondissement of north-central Paris.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said that two firefighters had been killed in the bakery blast, correcting the overall figure of four dead given earlier by France’s interior minister.
Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell revealed that a Spanish woman was also killed in the blast.
The El Pais newspaper reported the woman was a tourist staying in a hotel near the bakery.
Authorities said 10 people were in a critical condition and 37 others less seriously injured.
Interior minister Christophe Castaner told reporters at the scene “unfortunately the human toll is particularly serious”.
He paid tribute to the courage of rescuers who notably saved the life of one firefighter who was buried under the rubble for two-and-a-half hours.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, who was also at the scene, extended a “message of affection and solidarity” to the victims.
She said many residents and tourists had been evacuated from neighbouring buildings and hotels.
Paris authorities are helping provide temporary accommodation, the mayor said.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said that the cause appeared to be an acci- dental gas leak. He said that Paris firefighters were already at the scene to investigate a suspected gas leak at the bakery when the explosion happened.
He told reporters that “the judicial police have started investigating, the scientific police as well”.
He added: “The origin of the explosion seems accidental. We are at the beginning of the i nvestigation everything will be made to establish the exact origin of the explosion as soon as possible.”
Witnesses described the overwhelming sound of the blast and people trapped inside nearby build- ings. Charred debris and broken glass covered the pavement around the apartment building housing the bakery, which resembled a blackened carcass.
Authorities said around 200 firefighters and police were involved in the operation.
A helicopter landed in the area to evacuate the wounded. Silver-helmeted firefighters and red fire trucks filled the street and inspected adjoining courtyards. A vehicle from gas company GRDF was stationed nearby.
Pedro Goncalves, an employee at the Hotel Mercure opposite the bakery, said he saw firefighters enter the bakery in the morning but he and his co-workers “thought maybe it’s a joke, a false alarm” and they went back to work. About an hour later, he said a blast rocked the surrounding streets.
“In the middle of nothing, I heard one big explosion and then a lot of pressure came at me (and) a lot of black smoke and glass,” he said.
Goncalves said he “felt a lot of things fall on me” and that he was struck by shattered glass.
He had a few cuts on his head, and spots of blood on his sweater and shirt.
Authorities at the scene said three people had been killed by the explosion, ten were in a critical condition and 37 others were less seriously injured