The death toll from a gas explosion in central Paris has risen to four after rescue workers found the body of a missing woman in the rubble, investigators said today.
Two firefighters and a Spanish tourist were also killed in the massive blast that gutted part of a building, injured dozens more people and badly damaged nearby apartments.
The two firefighters were investigating a suspected gas leak when an explosion ripped through the Paris bakery which was serving breakfast yesterday morning.
In total, 47 people were injured in the blast which happened in the city’s 9th arrondissement at 9am local time.
The explosion destroyed the bakery, which is on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise.
Engineers are assessing the extent of the damage over fears that the building could collapse. Although across the city, emergency services are preparing for major disturbances during the ninth weekend of yellow jacket protests.
The blast, which is thought to be accidental, drew attention to the notoriously dilapidated state of the French’s capitals housing stock, in a city where such leaks are as frequent as domestic fires.
Neighbours smelt gas first thing on Saturday morning, before calling the emergency services.
The shocking aftermath of this morning’s bakery blast which killed two firefighters and a Spanish tourist in central Paris
Firefighters rest in the street after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris yesterday
Firefighters and cleaners of the city of Paris gather at the scene the day after a powerful gas explosion tore through a building in central Paris to clear the rubble
A general view shows debris and car wreckage following the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris
A powerful gas explosion tore through a building in central Paris on January 12, killing two firefighters and a Spanish woman, injuring dozens of people and badly damaging nearby apartments, officials said
Paris firefighters have been battling a blaze at a bakery caused by a suspected gas explosion at a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise
Firefighters helped elderly survivors living above the bakery from the first floor following this morning’s blast in Paris
Multiple people have been injured following the blast which ripped through the bakery in central Paris early this morning
A line of cars was destroyed by the blast which caused fires to break out in the popular bakery in north-eastern Paris
French prime minister Edouard Philippe, left, arrived at the scene of the explosion this morning to inspect the damage
The blast ripped through a bakery in the city’s ninth arrondissement in north-central Paris at 9am local time yesterday
As they responded, the explosion happened shortly before 9am inside the Hubert bakery, which was selling breakfast cakes and pastries.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said yesterday: ‘At this stage we can say it seems from accidental origin, this would be a gas leak.’
He said that Paris firefighters were already at the scene for a suspected gas leak on Saturday morning when the explosion happened.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borel wrote on Twitter: ‘I profoundly regret the death of three people in an explosion in central Paris, among them one Spanish citizen.’
Rue de Trevise is an easy walk from popular tourist destinations and the Gare du Nord Eurostar hub.
Confirming the deaths, France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said: ‘At 8.37 in the morning, the emergency services went to 6 Rue Trevise to investigate a gas leak.
‘When they were there, a massive explosion happened. One of the fire fighters remained under the rubble for two and half hours.
‘There are other very serious casualties. The area has been secured as the fires are put out.’ Mr Castaner said a ‘pocket of gas’ had built up in the building.
The explosion blasted rubble across the street outside the bakery shattering windows and destroying nearby cars
Authorities in Paris have confirmed several people have been injured while two firefighters and two civilians died
Medical teams triaged survivors on the street before sending the more seriously injured people to hospital
As well as the four dead, ten others were in a critical condition with 37 people suffering more minor injuries.
One firefighter was rescued by his colleagues after spending two-and-a-half hours trapped under the rubble.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who was also at the scene, extended a ‘message of affection and solidarity’ to the victims.
An eyewitness at a hotel nearby said he saw a huge fire erupt in the building blown out by the blast.
David Bangura, 38, said: ‘There was broken glass everywhere, storefronts were blown out and windows were shattered up to the third and fourth floors.’
He said that as he approached the scene, a woman was crying for help from the first floor of a building: ‘Help us, help us, we have a child.’
Several of those injured in the blast were sitting in the street eating their breakfast when the bakery exploded.
Witnesses told local media that if felt as if there had been an earthquake, with buildings rocked several hundred metres by the blast.
French prime minister Edouard Philippe arrived at the scene around an hour after the blast to inspect the damage.
Windows on the entire block were shattered by the powerful blast.
The powerful explosion knocked one car onto its side as debris was shot across the street earlier this morning
Fire chief Eric Moulin, pictured, confirmed two of his men are fighting for their lives along with three civilians. Unfortunately, the two firefighters and two of the civilians later died
Around 200 firefighters were sent to the scene to rescue survivors following yesterday’s explosion in the city’s 9th district
Around 200 firefighters were mobilised to battle the fire that broke out after the blast and rescue residents in neighbouring buildings, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters at the scene.
Police closed off streets in front of Opera theatre as emergency services landed two helicopters in the street, apparently to evacuate victims.
He said: ‘The toll appears to be high, and severe.’
More than 100 police officers blocked off surrounding streets to allow the rescue efforts to continue unimpeded.
Silver-helmeted firefighters and red firetrucks filled the street and inspected adjoining courtyards. Debris from a burned car and broken glass littered the pavement. A vehicle from gas company GRDF was stationed nearby.
The building is around the corner from the Folies-Bergere theater and not far from the shopping district that includes the famed headquarters of Galeries Lafayette.
The explosion came amid heavy security in Paris and around France for yellow vest protests expected later Saturday.
Businesses have boarded up their windows ahead of another planned demonstration.
Witness Claire Sallavuard, who lives on Rue de Trevise said: ‘I was sleeping and woke up by the blast wave. All the windows in the apartment exploded, doors were blown off their hinges, I had to walk on the door to leave the room, all the kids were panicking, they couldn’t get out of their room.’
Rescuers assisted the walking wounded from the scene of the blast which is being blamed on a gas leak in a bakery
At least five people have been seriously injured in this morning’s blast which occurred at around 9am local time
Rescuers eventually used a ladder to evacuate the family, who lived on the first floor.
Police sources said firefighters had already been responding to an alert of a gas leak at the site when the explosion occurred.
Cars were overturned by the blast and glass and rubble was strewn across large swathes of the street, as fire trucks and police continued to race toward the scene more than an hour later.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe also arrived on the scene to survey the damage.
Sylvain Maillard, deputy mayor of the 9th Arrondissement said: ‘There was an explosion in a bakery, it was accidental. There is heavy damage, lots of broken windows, and the bakery was totally gutted.’
Dozens of tourists, suitcases in hand, were evacuated from the many nearby hotels in the area, a popular weekend shopping destination for locals and visitors alike.
Other residents were in bathrobes or quickly dressing in the street as police helicopters circled overhead.
One teenager said: ‘We were sleeping when we heard the noise, it sounded like an earthquake.’
People are evacuated by firefighters from their apartment after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris on January 12, 2019. – A large explosion badly damaged a bakery in central Paris, injuring several people and smashing windows in surrounding buildings, police and reporters said
An air ambulance evacuated some of the more seriously injured survivors from the scene
The blast ripped the front off the bakery and threw debris for several hundred metres in all directions
One emergency worker said: ‘There are casualties. A whole shop front has been taken out, and other buildings have also been severely damaged. It’s a Saturday morning – a lot of people were at home. Leaking gas caused the explosion, which is being viewed as an accident.’
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.
He said: ‘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. And I had just enough time to get down and cover myself and protect my head.’
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 undershirt.
‘Thank god I’m OK,’ he said, saying that the blast was so powerful that he heard whistling in his ears in the aftermath.
Goncalves said that he ran for the exit and then went to check on the hotel’s clients, adding that some of them had head injuries and were bleeding. He said that the hotel was “destroyed” in the blast.
Another witness told The Associated Press that she was awakened by the blast, and feared it was another terrorist attack.
There were 5,000 police on the streets of Paris yesterday for an Act 9 ‘Day of Rage’ by the anti-government Yellow Vest movement.
They have been behind numerous acts of vandalism, including destroying parts of the Arc de Triomphe itself.
Fires have been life and buildings smashed to pieces during nine weeks of Saturday rioting by the movement.
Paris has also been targeting by terrorist groups in recent years, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
However, gas leaks frequently lead to explosions in the city, and yesterday’s will be investigated in full.
Some 80,000 police and troops have been stationed in Paris yesterday ahead of the expected ninth weekend of anti-government protests.
Firefighters evacuate an injured person on a stretcher after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris on January 12, 2019
French anti-riot police CRS stand guard by one of their vehicle equipped to form a dam in the streets of Bourges ahead of an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vest “Gilets Jaunes” movement
Firefighters tackle the outside of the gutted building. The explosion came amid heavy security in Paris and around France for yellow vest protests expected later Saturday
A large explosion badly damaged a bakery in central Paris, injuring several people and smashing windows in surrounding buildings, police. The fire broke out at around 9am yesterday. Firefighters were on hand to tackle the flames before moving on to clearing the debris
Firemen work at the site of an explosion in a bakery shop in the 9th District in Paris, France
Emergency workers pulled survivors from the rubble following the blast which happened at 9am local time
Officials said they are investigating the cause of the blast which is thought to have been caused by a gas explosion
At least nine people have been seriously injured by the blast which ripped through a Paris bakery at breakfast time yesterday