A massive explosion probably caused by a gas leak has gutted a the ground floor of a building in central Paris's shopping district on Saturday, seriously injuring at least nine people, French police say.
Authorities were already on high alert in the French capital for a ninth consecutive Saturday because of 'yellow vest' protests, with large parts of the city centre blocked off by riot police.
A police source said the explosion tore apart the bakery, with the force of the blast shattering nearby storefronts and rocking buildings hundreds of metres away.
'The situation is now under control,' Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, adding that more than 200 firemen are involved in the rescue operation.
An eyewitness who was staying at a hotel nearby said he saw saw a huge fire erupt in the building blown out by the blast.
'There was broken glass everywhere, storefronts were blown out and windows were shattered up to the third and fourth floors,' said 38-year-old David Bangura.
He said that as he approached the scene, a woman was crying for help from the first floor of a building: 'Help us, help us, we have a child'.
Two helicopters landed on the nearby Place de l'Opera to evacuate victims.