An explosion in French capital Paris on January 12, 2019 caused fire and injuries. (Emily Molli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“Unfortunately the human toll is particularly serious,” Castaner told the media. He added that “the situation is under control” and described his “shock” after seeing the damage.
Around 200 firefighters and police were involved in the emergency operation. A helicopter landed in the area to evacuate the wounded people.
The cause of the explosion appears to be an accidental gas leak, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said, but an investigation was opened to determine the exact cause of the explosion.
He noted that firefighters were already at the scene to check on the gas leak at the bakery before the explosion occurred.
Firefighters respond the scene after A huge blast destroyed buildings and left casualties in French capital Paris on January 12, 2019. (Emily Molli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The explosion caused debris and broken glass to cover the pavement. Some residents also described the loud blast, saying it scared them, fearing it was a terror attack.
An employee of a hotel opposite the bakery said he saw the firefighters entering the bakery about an hour before the blast.
“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,” the witness said. “And I had just enough time to get down and cover myself and protect my head.”
Firefighters rest in the street after the explosion of a bakery on the corner of the streets Saint-Cecile and Rue de Trevise in central Paris on January 12, 2019. (Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)
He added that the explosion left whistling in his ears. The hotel where he works was “destroyed” in the blast, he said.
The explosion occurred amid heavy police and emergency services presence in Paris due to the Yellow Vests protests, when protesters march on the capital every Saturday to show their dissatisfaction with the government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.