3 dead, dozens injured in Paris bakery gas leak
A powerful explosion apparently caused by a gas leak blew apart a Paris bakery Saturday and devastated the street it was on, killing three people and injuring dozens as it blasted out windows and overturned nearby cars, French authorities said.
Witnesses described the sound of the explosion as deafening. Firefighters pulled injured victims out from broken windows and evacuated residents and tourists as a fire raged and smoke billowed over Rue de Trevise in the 9th arrondissement of north- central Paris.
Charred debris and broken glass covered the pavement around the apartment building housing the bakery, which resembled a blackened carcass, and people were trapped inside nearby buildings.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner paid homage to the courage of rescuers, who saved the life of one firefighter who was buried under the rubble for 21⁄ hours.
The French Interior Ministry said two firefighters and a female Spanish tourist were killed by the blast and about 10 of the 47 wounded were in critical condition. French authorities corrected the figure of four dead given earlier by France’s interior minister.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said the cause of the blast appeared to be an accidental gas leak. He said Paris firefighters were already at the scene to investigate a suspected gas leak at the bakery when the explosion happened about 9 a.m.
The explosion came as the French capital was on edge and under heavy security for yellow vest protests Saturday against economic inequality. Authorities said 32,000 protesters took to the streets around the country.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell tweeted that “I deeply regret the death of three people after the explosion in central Paris, including a Spanish woman.” He shared condolences to her relatives and “wishes for a quick recovery to the other injured Spaniard.”
The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported the woman was a tourist staying in a hotel near the bakery, which is around the corner from the Folies-Bergere theater and not far from the Paris shopping district that includes the famed headquarters of Galeries Lafayette.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo extended a “message of affection and solidarity” to the victims. She said many residents and tourists had been evacuated from neighboring buildings and hotels and Paris authorities were helping to provide them temporary accommodations.
Authorities said around 200 firefighters and police were involved in the operation. A helicopter evacuated the wounded. Silverhelmeted firefighters and red firetrucks filled the street and inspected adjoining courtyards.
A powerful explosion and fire apparently caused by a gas leak at a Paris bakery Saturday left debris everywhere.