Four dead after explosion at Paris bakery ’caused by gas leak’

Four people have died following an explosion at a Paris bakery believed to have been caused by a gas leak.

Two of the victims are firefighters, who were on the scene responding to reports of the leak when the blast ripped through the building, French interior minister Christophe Castaner said.

A further 47 people are also believed to have been injured in the deadly fireball at the Hubert bakery on the Rue de Trevise, in Paris’ ninth arondissement.

Ten of those are in a critical condition.

Shocking images showed buildings either gutted or on fire and piles of rubble littering the street.

It is thought the blast, which occurred at around 9am local time, was caused by a gas leak in the bakery.

Confirming the deaths, 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.

More than 200 emergency responders attended the scene.

One emergency worker said: "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."

The fire service has been seen helping stranded residents out of the apartments above the shop.

One injured victim, who works in a nearby hotel, spoke to reporters at the scene, claiming fire crews were called to reports of a gas leak in a bakery and the explosion happened around an hour later. 

He also said the guests in the hotel were badly injured as a result of the blast.

An eyewitness who was staying at a hotel nearby said he saw a huge fire erupt in 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.

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".

Two helicopters landed on the nearby Place de l’Opera to evacuate victims.

According to opening hours listed online, the Hubert bakery is closed on Saturdays. 

Police are warning people to avoid the area and leave the surrounding streets free for emergency vehicles.

Stranded residents in the apartments directly above the bakery were being led to safety by members of the fire service.

Some were still in pyjamas and dressing gowns as they were helped down ladders.

Those injured in the explosion was seen being stretchered into an ambulance by paramedics.

Flames were seen on the ground floor of the Hubert patisserie, and there appeared to be significant damage to the upper floors of the building, too.

Nearby vehicles were damaged and upturned.

One witness told French news channel BFM TV: "I was sleeping and suddenly I heard a big explosion and windows exploded in our building. I went down and I saw it was the bakery, it’s carnage."

Another resident, who managed to escape safely, added that there was "nothing left" of her apartment.

A Twitter user, who lives nearby, said his windows were rattled by the force of the blast.

Another said she "heard screaming, like some were still trapped."

Others say the blast could be heard as far as two kilometres away from the bakery.

One social media user wrote, "The impact is so huge, it woke everyone up. People are still stuck there."

The French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe arrived at the scene around an hour after the explosion.

The incident has occurred on a day of high security in the French capital.

There are 5000 police on the streets of Paris today 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 rife 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 Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

However, gas leaks frequently lead to explosions in the city, and today’s will be investigated in full.

A gas leak in April 2016 in the 6tharrondissement of Paris left 17 people seriously wounded, and destroyed the façade of a building.

Many of the traditional Haussmann building in the city are extremely badly maintained, with corrosion being blamed for gas the escapes.

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