Paris gas blast death toll hits four as gas network criticised as ‘deadly liability’

The death toll from a powerful gas explosion that ripped apart a bakery and severely damaged several apartment buildings in central Paris has risen to four after rescue workers found a woman’s body in the rubble.

Rescue workers with sniffer dogs worked throughout the night to search for a woman reported missing who lived above the bakery on the Rue de Trévise in the ninth arrondissement of the French capital and who was believed to be in the debris.

It was still to be confirmed if the body they found was that of the missing woman.

Two firefighters, who had been investigating a gas leak, and a Spanish tourist staying at a nearby hotel, had already been reported dead by the blast on Saturday morning that also injured nearly 50 people, with ten of them still in serious condition on Sunday.

Thirty rescue workers were continuing to search the blast site for other potential victims, said Paris fire department spokesman Eric Moulin.

Residents of 12 buildings affected have been told that they cannot return to their homes until authorities are certain the structures are safe.

Temporary accommodation has been provided for about 40 residents while dozens of others have been housed by family and friends.

A local elected official meanwhile said that the gas distribution system in Paris, built at the start of the last century, is in a terrible state.

“We must recognise that this (gas) network, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century, is a deadly liability,” local councillor Alexandre Vesperini, who is also a member of the Paris gas supervisory authority, told Le Parisien newspaper.

He said that it was being modernised but that the work was being carried out piecemeal and was clearly not a priority for the city or for gas companies.

Saturday’s explosion came as Paris was on edge during the latest "yellow vest" anti-government demonstrations, which have often degenerated into violence and vandalism in Paris and other cities in recent weeks.

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