Paris explosion death toll rises to four

10 in critical condition following blast on Saturday morning in north-central Paris

A massive explosion probably caused by a gas leak gutted the ground floor of a building in central Paris's shopping district. Video: Reuters

 

Rescuers have found a body under the rubble of a bakery in Paris that was blown apart by a powerful explosion, bringing the overall death toll to four.

The blast on Saturday morning in the Rue de Trevise in the 9th arrondissement of north-central Paris also injured dozens of people. Authorities say 10 of them are still in critical condition.

Paris fire department spokesman Eric Moulin told reporters about 30 firefighters were at the site to search for other potential victims, amid a mountain of debris and wrecked cars.

Paris authorities said 12 neighbouring buildings that were damaged by the blast apparently due to a gas leak have been evacuated.

Firefighters extinguish a fire after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters extinguish a fire after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Temporary accommodations were provided for about 40 residents while dozens of others have been housed by family and friends.

On Saturday, three people have died, including two firefighters and a Spanish citizen were reported dead from the explosion.

Firefighters pulled injured victims out of windows and evacuated residents as smoke billowed over Rue de Trevise in north-central Paris.

A woman is evacuated by firefighters after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images
A woman is evacuated by firefighters after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Witnesses described the overwhelming sound of the blast and people trapped inside nearby buildings.

Charred debris and broken glass covered the pavement around the apartment building housing the bakery, which resembled a blackened carcass.

Mr Castaner said “the situation is under control”. After visiting the scene, he described his “shock” at seeing the damage, and 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 engines 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. “And I had just enough time to get down and cover myself and protect my head.”

Mr 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.

“Thank god I’m okay,” he said, saying that the blast was so powerful that he heard whistling in his ears in the aftermath.

Mr 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.

Firefighters evacuate a wounded man on a stretcher from the scene of a gas leak explosion in Paris. Photograph: Thibault Camus/PA
Firefighters evacuate a wounded man on a stretcher from the scene of a gas leak explosion in Paris. Photograph: Thibault Camus/PA

Another witness told reporters that she was awakened by the blast, and feared it was another terrorist attack.

The bakery is around the corner from the Folies-Bergere theatre and not far from the shopping district that includes the famed headquarters of Galeries Lafayette.– PA and Reuters