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A gas explosion in Salford, Greater Manchester, has left 11 people hurt and four homes completely destroyed. Witnesses described a “huge booming noise” just after 7am.
An investigation has begun after the explosion ripped through the terraced houses in Irlam, Salford just before 7.15am in the morning.
Eleven people were injured in the blast, which residents described as making a “booming noise”.
A North West Ambulance spokesman said one woman in her seventies was in a critical condition, with 30 per cent burns, and being treated at Wythenshawe Hospital. Three children were taken to Salford’s Hope Hospital with minor injuries. Two adults were also taken to the hospital, and three other adults were treated at the scene, he said.
A fire service spokesman added that two more people may have been injured and had gone to hospital themselves, meaning that 11 people in total were hurt by the blast.
Two of the wounded were hit by flying glass and debris, and one man was hurt when his ceiling collapsed.
The ambulance service spokesman added: “The only serious injury is the elderly lady and we have no information about people possibly unaccounted for.”
William Billinge lives nearby and rushed outside upon hearing the “very loud bang” which shook his house this morning, to see flattened properties.
“There is nothing left of them,” he said. “There is debris everywhere, all over the place. Four houses completely flattened.”
Tesco night shift worker Barbara Holgate had just returned from work when the blast happened, and reported a strong smell of gas.
She said: “They have evacuated a lot of people. They were knocking on doors, telling people to get out.”
Around 80 houses were evacuated.
National Grid, which owns and operates the gas pipes, is shutting off the gas supply to the area, Merlin Road, as a precaution.
A spokeswoman said: “It should all be cut off by around lunchtime. But because it’s still a rescue operation we have not been able to do any testing at the scene itself. Once the rescue has been completed and they say they have found everyone they are expecting to find we can go back in and start testing.”
Fire liaison officer Paul Etches said: “Search and Rescue haven’t found people buried but that is the process we are going through and can’t say it is clear.
“It is going to be mid to late afternoon, possibly early evening, before we get to any normality.”
The cause of the explosion is as yet unknown. Improvement works were being carried out by a housing trust at one of the homes destroyed in the blast.
Tim Doyle, chief executive at City West Housing Trust, said: “At around 7.15 this morning there was an explosion at one of our houses in Irlam.
“We immediately implemented our emergency plan, and we are doing everything to help and support our residents.
“A rest centre has been set up at Fiddlers Lane Primary School in Irlam and transport to the centre is being provided from Moorfield Primary School playing fields. There is currently an emergency cordon around the site and a large number of homes have been evacuated.
“We can confirm that we have been carrying out improvement works in this area as part of our extensive investment programme, including at this property. We are now working with the emergency services on an ongoing investigation into the cause of the explosion.”
Salford City Council has opened an emergency centre for families evacuated from their homes.
Anybody needing further information should telephone 0161 909 6515.