2 Dead, Dozens Injured in Paris Bakery Blast

Officials suspect a gas leak was the cause
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 12, 2019 8:00 AM CST
Medical staff and firefighters tend to a wounded man at the scene of a gas leak explosion in Paris on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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(Newser) – French authorities said two firefighters were killed and 47 people injured in a powerful explosion and fire apparently caused by a gas leak at a Paris bakery Saturday that blasted out windows and overturned cars. Firefighters pulled injured victims from windows and evacuated residents as smoke billowed over Rue de Trevise in the 9th arrondissement of north-central Paris. The Paris prosecutor's office says two firefighters were killed in the blast, correcting the figure of four dead given earlier by France's interior minister. Authorities say 10 people are in critical condition and 37 others less seriously injured, per the AP. Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz says the cause appears to be an accidental gas leak, adding that Paris firefighters were already at the scene to investigate a suspected gas leak at the bakery when the explosion happened.

Authorities say around 200 firefighters and police were involved in the operation. Witnesses describe the overwhelming sound of the blast and people trapped inside nearby buildings. An employee at a hotel opposite the bakery says he saw firefighters enter the bakery in the morning, but that he and his co-workers "thought maybe it's a joke, a false alarm" and went back to work. About an hour later, he said a blast rocked the surrounding streets. "I heard one big explosion and then a lot of pressure came at me [and] a lot of black smoke and glass," he says. "I had just enough time to get down and cover myself and protect my head." Another witness tells the AP she was awakened by the blast and feared it was a terrorist attack. The explosion came as the French capital is on edge and under heavy security for yellow vest protests around the nation. (Read more Paris stories.)

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