Two French firefighters and a Spanish woman died and nearly 50 people were injured in a gas explosion that destroyed the ground floor of a building in central Paris.
The incident occurred while the center of Paris was under the security block for a ninth consecutive Saturday of the protests of the "yellow vest"9659002] "I was sleeping and I was awakened by the explosive wave", told AFP Claire Sallavuard, who lives in Rue de Trevise where the explosion occurred. apartment exploded, the doors were swept away by the hinges, I had to walk on the door to exit the room, all the children were panicked, they could not get out of their room. "
" Firefighters has us advised to leave but the elevator shaft had been swept away, not there was no railing, nothing, and there was too much smoke, "he said.
In addition to the two dead firefighters, another 47 people were injured in the explosion, 10 of them seriously, the Paris prosecutor's office said.
French minister of the interior Christophe Castaner said that or the firemen died in the explosion, while the Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell declared that even a Spanish woman was killed.
"While firefighters were looking for a gas leak in the building, a dramatic explosion occurred," said Castaner adding that firefighters were buried under the rubble for several hours.
Castaner said in his Twitter feed that 10 people, including another firefighter, suffered serious injuries.
Another 37 people have had lighter wounds, he said.
A source in the Spanish Foreign Ministry said a woman who was on vacation with her husband in Paris died in the hospital after the explosion, while another Spanish citizen was injured.
About 100 police officers have blocked several streets in the area, home to restaurants and tourist attractions including the Musvin Grevin wax museum and the popular Rue des Martyrs.
Police also closed the streets in front of Opéra Garnier while emergency services landed two helicopters in front of the historic building to evacuate the victims.
The explosion occurred shortly after 9:00 (0800 GMT) in the building that housed a bakery and a restaurant on the ground floor in the Ninth Arrondissement.
"It happened when there were people on the street and firefighters inside," said the Minister of the Interior.
"Like an earthquake"
The impact wave was warned up to four blocks away, commander Eric Moulin of the Paris Fire Department said, adding that rescuers were still looking for more victims.
Firefighters responded to an alarm of a gas leak at the site when the explosion occurred, Paris prostor Remy Heitz said.
"Before there was a gas leak and the firemen arrived, then there was an explosion that caused the fire," Heitz said.
Dozens of tourists, suitcases in hand, were evacuated from numerous nearby hotels in the area, a popular weekend shopping destination for residents and tourists alike.
Other residents were in bathrobes or dressed quickly in the street while police helicopters turned overhead.  "We slept when we heard the noise, it felt like an earthquake," a teenager who lives in a nearby street told AFP
"We came downstairs and we saw a building on fire", said his brother .
Many houses and buildings in Paris use gas to heat and cook, although explosions due to losses are relatively rare.