A Frenchman has become the first in history to be killed by an exploding petanque ball.

The freak accident took place in sweltering temperatures on Thursday in the southwestern town of Boulou, close to France's border with Spain.

For currently unexplained reasons a metal petanque ball found its way into the grill being used for the unnamed victim's family barbeque, reports The Daily Mail.
It got hotter and hotter, before it exploded, and then metal particles flew into the 31-year-old's head.

"Medics were called, and a doctor arrived by air ambulance to organise an evacuation by helicopter," said a source based in the nearby city of Perpignan.

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The source added: "Sadly the victim died from very serious injuries to his head."

At least five other people were in the garden at the time of the accident, including three children aged between eight and 10.

All were suffering from "psychological trauma", but were otherwise physically unhurt, said the source.

Petanque, one of the most popular games in France, is a form of boules that involves tossing metal balls as close to a small wooden ball as possible.

The main balls are usually made by welding two steel half-spheres together before they are heated to around 900 degrees and then finished.

Investigators are considering whether a manufacturing defect or a chemical reaction may have caused the ball to explode with such horrific consequences.

In July last year there was a similar incident when a petanque ball was left in a fire pit on a beach before exploding and seriously injuring a teenager in the chest.

There are no other known examples of anyone being killed by an exploding petanque ball.