Eighteen people injured in bonfire explosion at French carnival

Fiona Simpson
Bonfire explosion: 18 people were injured by flying debris: Youtube/Houda Attarki

Eighteen people have been injured after a bonfire exploded at a French carnival.

Chaos erupted as flames burst from the fire during an annual spring event in Villepinte, a town north of Paris.

Five of those injured, including one of three children hurt, were taken to hospital with serious injuries, fire service spokeswoman Nathalie Crispin said.

The explosion sparked panic among hundreds of people as onlookers were hit by flying chunks of burning wood.

Families, the mayor and other officials, had gathered for the annual carnival and were getting ready to watch its climactic event - the lighting of a traditional bonfire, Ms Crispin said.

The fuel used to light the fire was apparently mishandled, prompting the explosion, she said.

Ms Crispin and officials from the local police and the prosecutor's office of the Seine-Saint-Denis region said the explosion was found to be accidental.

France is in a state of emergency after Islamic extremist attacks in recent years but authorities said there were no signs of arson or terrorism in Saturday's explosion.