Three killed, 47 injured in Paris blast



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Officials have confirmed two firefighters and a female Spanish tourist have been killed in the explosion and fire at a bakery in the 9th Arrondissement of the French capital, believed to have been caused by a gas leak.

France's interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said 47 others have been injured, 10 of those with critical injuries.

"Unfortunately the human toll is particularly serious," he said, before paying homage to the courage of rescuers who saved the life of one firefighter, who was buried under the rubble for two-and-a-half hours.

Dozens have been injured and two firefighters killed after the bakery blast (AAP)
The explosion took place on Rue de Treviso the 9th Arrondissement of the French capital. (Nine)
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who was also at the scene, extended a "message of affection and solidarity" to the victims.

The police spokeswoman said firefighters were called to the scene to investigate a gas leak at the bakery, but the blast didn't happen until after they arrived and warned residents to stay inside.

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."

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 undershirt.

"Thank god I'm OK," he said, saying that the blast was so powerful that he heard whistling in his ears in the aftermath.

Emergency services are on the scene in central Paris following an explosion (Twitter)
Smoke billowed out from the building, located near the famous Galeries Lafayette headquarters (PA/AAP)
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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 the hotel was "destroyed" in the blast.

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

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

Paris prosecutor's office confirmed an investigation was opened but wouldn't comment on what possible causes were being investigated.

The injured were swiftly taken away and treated by paramedics (AP/AAP)
Firefighters rescued residents from inside the building (AP/AAP)
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said "the situation is under control" but warned the explosion had caused a "heavy toll".

Speaking Saturday from the scene, he said some 200 firefighters said were involved in the operation.

Scenes around the bakery, shown in images uploaded on Twitter show firefighters at the scene of the blast, which took place on Saturday morning local time.

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

A helicopter landed in the area to evacuate the wounded.

The building is around the corner from the Folies-Bergere theatre and not far from the shopping district that includes the famed headquarters of department store Galeries Lafayette.

Silver-helmeted firefighters and red firetrucks filled the street and inspected adjoining courtyards.

Windows of the property looked to have been blown out with the force of the explosion and rubble was seen out on the streets.

Debris from a burned car and broken glass littered the pavement. A vehicle from gas company GRDF was stationed nearby.

The explosion came amid heavy security in Paris and around France for yellow vest protests expected later on Saturday. It's not believed the two are connected.

Firefighters first attended the bakery before the blast after reports of a gas leak (9news)
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