Gas explosion rocks central Paris shopping district, 9 injuredYAHOO! #Told_ReportersJanuary 12, 2019
By Lucien Libert and Geert De Clercq
PARIS (Reuters) – Two French firefighters and a Spanish citizen died and nearly people 50 were injured in a gas explosion that gutted the ground floor of a building in a central Paris shopping district on Saturday, authorities said.
The accident occurred with central Paris under security lockdown for a ninth consecutive Saturday of “yellow vest” protests.
Large parts of the capital were blocked off by riot police, although the protests have reduced in scale compared with November.
“As firemen were looking for a gas leak in the building, a dramatic explosion took place,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, adding that one of the firemen had been buried under debris for several hours.
Castaner said on his Twitter feed that two firefighters had died and 10 people, including one other firefighter, had serious injuries.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter feed that a Spanish woman had also died in the blast.
In recent years, France has suffered a string of deadly Islamist militant attacks in Paris, Nice, Marseille and elsewhere but authorities quickly ruled out foul play.
An eyewitness at a hotel nearby said he saw flames envelop the ground floor of the building blown out by the blast.
(Additional reporting by Caroline Paillez, Emmanuel Jarry and Benoit Tessier in Paris and Sam Edwards in Madrid; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Ros Russell and Hugh Lawson)