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Fireworks blast at Paris musical about French Revolution: 1 dead, 14 injured

The scene outside the Paris musical venue where the freak accident occurred on Friday night. EPA / Yoan Valat

A stage worker died and 14 others were injured after a freak accident sparked a pyrotechnics explosion in Paris during preparations for a musical about the French Revolution, local media reported.

The blast rocked the Palais des Sports venue in the south-west of the city at about 6 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) Friday, witnesses and officials told agency AFP and newspaper Le Parisien.

Fifteen people – all thought to be either cast members or stage workers – were injured in the explosion. One of them suffered a heart attack and was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, Le Parisien reported.

The blast was "extremely violent," fire chief Lt. Col. Samuel Bernes told reporters.

The large venue – which hosted the premiere of Les Miserables in 1980 – was preparing to stage a production of "1789, The Lovers of the Bastille," the BBC reported.

About 100 firefighters and a dozen fire engines were deployed to the scene, which was later visited by Interior Minister Manuel Valls, AFP said.

Early reports suggest the accident happened when a disc from a grinder being used on stage broke, scattering fragments, one of which ignited gunpowder that was to be used in a pyrotechnic display during the performance, according to Le Parisien, which did not cite a source for the information.

Some of the injured were burned by the fireworks, but others were hurt by the collapse of the wall and the subsequent collapse of part of the ceiling.

"The walls shook," a witness who works nearby told reporters.

No audience members were in the auditorium, according to AFP.