Paris theatre's technical chief dies after accidental blast

PARIS - A Paris theatre's technical director died of a heart attack overnight after a malfunctioning power tool set off an explosion at the theatre, investigators said Saturday.

Marcus Toledano, 41, died in a Paris hospital, police said, adding that his heart had stopped when rescue workers arrived on the scene Friday evening.

An initial investigation determined that a first blast, which occurred near the stage shortly after 6:00 pm, was caused when the disc of a circular power saw broke away and ignited fireworks stored nearby for use in a musical about the French Revolution.

Toledano was among several people who rushed to the scene, and a second explosion ensued, causing a wall to collapse.

Several others were injured, five seriously, police said Friday.

The injured were mostly stage hands who were setting up for the 8.30 pm showing of "1789, the Lovers of the Bastille" at the Palais des Sports in southwest Paris, which was cancelled as a result of the blasts.

Only cast and crew were on site at the time, an employee told AFP.

Producer Albert Cohen said four employees who were hospitalised overnight were "out of danger" and would be discharged later Saturday.

Several others received treatment, though some only to have their hearing checked after being exposed to the loud blasts.

About 100 firefighters and a dozen fire engines were deployed to the scene of the accident.