Huge explosion at Paris carnival injures at least 18

Shehab Khan

A huge explosion rocked a popular French carnival, injuring at least 18 people.

Onlookers were hit by chunks of burning wood and other debris after the fireball erupted from the guy-style figure known as Mr Carnival which was made of straw and wood.

"Many are injured in the face, and all are in hospital," said Nathalie Crespin, a spokeswoman for the Paris fire brigade, adding that five were "in a very bad way."

At least one child is thought to have been among the injured, many of whom suffered from burns.

Dramatic footage was posted to social media of the incident in Villepinte, a town north of Paris.

Five of those who were injured were taken to hospital with severe injuries but it not believed their lives are in danger.

One eyewitness told Le Parisien that the person who lit the fire was projects several meters into the air.

Another said that they had seen a child "screaming and covered in blood."

They said that "to begin with, everyone thought the explosion was planned, then we realised something had gone terribly wrong."

A few hundred people, including local families, the mayor and other officials were waiting to watch the lighting of the 20ft high effigy when the explosion took place.

The fuel that was used to light the fighter had apparently been mishandled, Ms Crespin said , adding that the children injured were aged between two to 14.

Along with a few hundred members of the public, she said the mayor and other officials, had gathered to watch the lighting of the effigy.