Jan 12, 2019 17:23 UTC
  • Several people hurt as gas leak causes huge explosion in central Paris

A huge explosion has rocked the central part of the French capital, Paris, as the city braces itself for the next round of anti-government protests.

The blast took place in the 9th district of Paris on Saturday morning, with initial reports saying “a number of” people had sustained injuries.

"The human toll is heavy, it is serious", says France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. 

"Twelve people are seriously injured, including three firefighters, and 24 others have more minor injuries," Commander Eric Moulin of the Paris fire service told journalists at the scene.

"Among the 12, two firefighters and three civilians are in life-threatening condition," he said.

Pictures shared on social media showed the windows blown out of a building with rubble strewn across the street.

The cause of the incident remained unclear but French authorities said the blast was believed to be cause by a gas leak inside a bakery store.

Paris police warned the public in a tweet and called on residents to "avoid the area and allow the passage of the emergency vehicles.”

The development comes ahead of the ninth executive weekend of anti-government “yellow vest” protests across the country.