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Posted at: Jan 13, 2019, 7:16 AM; last updated: Jan 13, 2019, 7:16 AM (IST)

Three killed in Paris gas explosion

Two firefighters and a Spanish tourist victims of powerful blast
Three killed in Paris gas explosion
Firefighters douse blaze that broke out after a gas explosion at a bakery in central Paris on Saturday. AFP

Paris, January 12

A powerful gas explosion tore through a building in central Paris on Saturday, killing two firefighters and a Spanish woman, injuring dozens of people and badly damaging nearby apartments, officials said.

Around 200 firefighters were mobilised to battle the fire that broke out after the blast and evacuate victims and residents in the area, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters at the scene.

The explosion came with the city on edge during the latest “yellow vest” anti-government demonstrations, which have often degenerated into violence and vandalism in Paris and other cities in recent weeks.

Cars were overturned by the blast and glass and rubble was strewn across large swathes of the street after the explosion gutted the lower part of the building. Dozens of residents were treated by rescue workers on the street.

“I was sleeping and was woken up by the blast wave,” Claire Sallavuard, who lives on the Rue de Trevise where the explosion occurred, told AFP. “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.” “Firefighters advised us to leave but the elevator shaft had been blown out, there was no railing, nothing, and there was too much smoke,” she said.

Besides the two dead firefighters and a Spanish woman, 47 other persons were injured in the blast, 10 of them seriously, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

A source in the Spanish foreign ministry said a woman who was holidaying with her husband in Paris died in hospital after the blast while another Spanish national was also injured. Around 100 police officers blocked off several streets in the area, home to restaurants and tourist attractions including the Musee Grevin wax museum and the popular Rue des Martyrs.

Police also closed off streets in front of the Garnier Opera house as emergency services landed two helicopters in front of the building to evacuate victims. Dozens of tourists, suitcases in hand, were evacuated from the many nearby hotels in the area, a popular weekend shopping destination for visitors. — AFP

Clashes erupt as France’s ‘yellow vests’ stage fresh protests

  • Protesters skirmished with the police in Paris and other cities on Saturday as thousands turned out for new rallies against French President Macron, with dozens arrested as officials vowed a crackdown on the violence that has marred the protests since November

  • The “yellow vest” marches began calmly across the nation amid a heavy police deployment of some 80,000 officers nationwide, with protesters singing the “Marseillaise” national anthem and holding signs, including “Insecurity is not a job”

  • But scores of protesters later clashed with riot police after arriving at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, prompting volleys of tear gas and water cannon as security forces prevented them from reaching the Champs-Elysees

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