PARIS, France - Three people, including two firefighters were killed and dozens suffered injuries in a powerful explosion that tore through central Paris early on Saturday.
The explosion occurred on No. 6 Rue de Trevise, in the central Paris shopping district on Saturday, covering the entire area in smoke, flames and debris and leaving several people injured.
According to officials from the city and the police, the explosion was believed to have been caused by a gas leak, which gutted the ground floor of the building.
The explosion triggered a major security and emergency operation shortly after 8.30 am, involving more than 200 firefighters, medical workers and the police, who rushed to the area to help those injured.
After arriving at the spot, emergency officials asked residents in the area to turn off their gas supply and stay indoors to avoid any untoward situation.
Helicopters were flown in to help evacuate some of those injured in the explosion.
The injured people were reportedly rushed to the square in front of the Paris Opera House.
In a statement issued to the media, the Paris prosecutor's office said that a total of 47 people had suffered injuries in the explosion.
The statement added that two firefighters and a Spanish woman had died in the explosion, while ten out of the 47 people were critically injured.
The French interior minister, Christophe Castaner confirmed that two Paris firefighters were among the dead.
Spain's Foreign Ministry issued a statement confirming that a Spanish woman had also been killed in the blast.
The statement from the ministry said that a Spanish couple were being treated in the hospital.
The explosion occurred in the French capital, which has been under security lockdown for a ninth consecutive Saturday of the 'Yellow Vest' protests.
The accident also took place when large parts of the French capital have been blocked off by riot police.
According to city officials, the blast shattered windows, burned cars and caused major alarm amongst residents in the area.
The French interior minister praised the efforts by firefighters, who he said were able to save seven people, including one firefighters who was trapped underneath rubble for more than two hours.
Addressing reporters later in the day, the Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said that the blast had been "manifestly accidental."
Heitz said, "First there was a gas leak, then the arrival of the firefighters, followed by an explosion that caused the fire."
He said that investigators were now focussed on probing the cause of the gas leak.