Gas blast kills three in Paris amid protests

Viet Nam News - - WORLD -

PARIS — Two French fire­fight­ers and a Span­ish woman died and nearly 50 peo­ple were in­jured in a mas­sive gas ex­plo­sion that gut­ted the ground floor of a build­ing in a cen­tral Paris shop­ping dis­trict on Satur­day, au­thor­i­ties said.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred with the cen­tre of the cap­i­tal un­der se­cu­rity lock­down for a ninth con­sec­u­tive on Satur­day of “yel­low vest” protests. Large parts of the city were blocked off by riot po­lice, al­though the protests have re­duced in scale com­pared with Novem­ber.

“As fire­men were look­ing for a gas leak in the build­ing, a dra­matic ex­plo­sion took place,” In­te­rior Min­is­ter Christophe Cas­taner said, adding that one fire­man had been buried un­der de­bris for sev­eral hours.

Cas­taner said on his Twit­ter feed that two fire­fight­ers had died and 10 peo­ple, in­clud­ing one other fire­fighter, had se­ri­ous in­juries. An­other 37 peo­ple had lighter in­juries, he said.

Span­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Josep Bor­rell wrote on his Twit­ter feed that a Span­ish woman had also died in the blast. French Euro­pean Af­fairs Min­is­ter Nathalie Loiseau con­firmed her death in a Twit­ter mes­sage.

Span­ish news­pa­per El Con­fi­den­cial re­ported that the woman was a tourist vis­it­ing Paris with her hus­band, who was un­harmed.

Just hours after the blast, thou­sands of yel­low vest pro­test­ers marched nois­ily but peace­fully through the Grands Boule­vards shop­ping dis­trict of north­ern Paris, just a few hun­dred me­tres from the scene of the ex­plo­sion.

In re­cent years, France has suf­fered a string of deadly Is­lamist mili- tant at­tacks in Paris, Nice, Mar­seille and else­where but au­thor­i­ties quickly ruled out foul play.

“A this stage we can say it (the gas blast) is clearly an ac­ci­dent,” Paris prose­cu­tor Remi Heitz told re­porters.

A po­lice source said the ex­plo­sion tore apart a bak­ery on the ground floor of the build­ing in the rue Tre­vise. Wit­nesses said the force of the blast shat­tered nearby store­fronts and rocked build­ings hun­dreds of me­tres away.

More than 200 fire­fight­ers joined the res­cue op­er­a­tion and two he­li­copters landed on the nearby Place de l’Opera to evac­u­ate vic­tims. Am­bu­lances strug­gled to ac­cess the blast area be­cause of po­lice bar­ri­ers set up to con­tain any vi­o­lence by yel-

No Viet­namese hurt in gas-leak ex­plo­sion

low vest pro­test­ers.

An eye­wit­ness at a ho­tel nearby said he saw flames en­velop the ground floor of the build­ing blown out by the blast.

“There was bro­ken glass ev­ery­where, store­fronts were blown out and win­dows were shat­tered up to the third and fourth floors,” said 38- year- old David Ban­gura. — REUTERS

Fire­fight­ers work at a blast site in Paris, France, on Satur­day. A gas blast hit Cen­tral Paris on early Satur­day, leav­ing two French fire­fight­ers and a Span­ish woman died and nearly 50 peo­ple were in­jured, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia re­ports. The ex­plo­sion took place in a bak­ery on the Rue de Tre­vise in the ninth ar­rondisse­ment of Paris. —Xin­hua/VNA Photo

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