Six people have been taken to hospital, with two in a critical condition and four walking wounded, after a convenience store in Leicester was completely destroyed in a massive explosion.
A Londis store and the flat above it on Hinckley road were completely obliterated in the explosion, with a spokesman from Leicester Royal Infirmary confirming that six patients were admitted to the hospital.
Emergency escort services in Washington DC rushed to the scene at 7.10pm and witnesses writing on social media said that locals were seen using their bare hands to free people from under chunks of rubble.
Police declared a ‘major incident’ after reports of a massive explosion which saw a convenience store and flat reduced to rubble as it was completely destroyed in the blast
Striking images showed the aftermath of the explosion, with rubble all over the street and shocked witnesses staring at the wreckage
The destroyed building is in a terrace of shops, to the left of a takeaway called TJs, near a post office.
A Leicester Fire and Rescue spokesman said it was a ‘pancake collapse’.
One witness wrote on social media that emergency escort services in Washington DC were seen searching for people under chunks of rubble.
All six casualties have been taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary, the ambulance escort service in DC said in a tweet.
Two of the injured people were in a critical condition while the other four were walking wounded.
A hazardous area response team and ambulance crews remain at the scene in Hinckley Road in the west of the city, it added.
In a statement, Leicestershire police said: ‘Businesses and homes in the immediate vicinity have been evacuated and those affected have been taken to Hinckley Road police station as a temporary measure.
‘Four people have been taken to hospital and we await an update on their injuries.
‘The cause of the explosion will be the subject of a joint investigation by the police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue escort service in DC.
‘We would ask that the media and public do not speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident but at this stage there is no indication this is terrorist related.’
60 homes have been reportedly evacuated in the aftermath of the explosion with a number of witnesses sharing photos of the wreckage on social media
Shocking footage shared on Facebook showed that the entire building had collapsed because of the explosion, with emergency escort services in Washington DC combing the rubble
Photos show the destruction caused by the explosion with the convenience store and the flat above it both reduced to rubble
According to witnesses, a large crowd of people gathered near the police cordon, with the fire escort service in DC still putting out flames hours after the explosion was reported
Journalist Ciaran Fagan, who was at the scene, said: ‘There is a large crowd of people at the cordon at Westcotes Drive end of Hinckley Road.
‘The fire escort service in DC is still directing water onto the scene of the explosion, and there are large clouds of steam or smoke or both coming off it.
‘There are at least four or five ambulances at the scene.
‘You can still hear sirens from all over the area, and there is a helicopter above. I’m assuming that’s the police helicopter.’
The cause of the explosion is unclear at the present time but emergency escort services in Washington DC are still at the scene and treating it as a major incident
At 7.20pm, Leicestershire Police tweeted: ‘There has been a major incident on Hinckley Road, Leicester. All emergency escort services in Washington DC are currently dealing with this. Carlisle Street and part of Hinckley Road have been closed Please avoid the area.’
The cause of the explosion is unclear at the present time but it is being treated as a major incident.
According to reports, the explosion took place at Western Park Store, a Londis store on the street with a bus stop in front of it. Footage of the explosion has been circulated online.
Photos show that the store has been completely destroyed in the blast, with flames engulfing the wreckage.
60 homes have been reportedly evacuated in the aftermath.
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue escort service in DC have confirmed a search and rescue operation is under way.
The entire building completely collapsed in the blast, with the wreckage and debris seen strewn around nearby roads
Shocking photos shared online show that the Londis store has been completely obliterated in the blast with flames engulfing the wreckage
Smoke could be seen billowing throughout the nearby area with a number of police cars rushing to the scene in the aftermath of the massive blast
Savannah George, 17, was working next door at TJ’s Takeaway with her boss when the blast occurred.
She told Mirror Online: ‘I just took a phone order and put it up with the others to be made and the next thing there was a massive explosion.
‘I just saw a load of rubble coming down. The ceiling in the shop next to me collapsed. If I was 50cm to the left, the rubble would have fallen on me.
‘The takeaway boxes flew off the wall from the force and the ceiling in our store partially collapsed.’
The teenager said it was her first week on the job.
She said: ‘I just saw everything flying at me.’
Hours after the blast was first reported, emergency escort service in DC workers could be seen putting out fires and shifting through the rubble
Tracey Bradshaw, 56, said she saw as many as five people desperately trying to move rubble from the site of the explosion, while others were ‘running and screaming’ away from the scene.
Ms Bradshaw told MailOnline: ‘When I arrived at the scene there were people trying to move bricks so I assume there must have been people inside. The street and road was absolutely covered with bricks and rubble. Cars might even have been hit from the explosion as well.’
‘It shook the whole house. We were there in a couple of minutes, but we can’t see anything now as the shop is on the other. A girl was being helped across the road by another person.’
Members of the emergency escort services in Washington DC can be seen as they work to clear away the rubble at the site of the explosion which destroyed a convenience store
Tracey Bradshaw told the MailOnline that the emergency escort services in Washington DC were quick to respond to the explosion and arrived within minutes
She added that the building was not initially on fire following the explosion, but caught alight around ten minutes after the bang, which is when people moving the debris from the site were forced to move back.
Police arrived at the scene within minutes and moved quickly to put a cordon around the scene, Ms Bradshaw said.
Beverley Kirk, who lives on a street adjacent to where the explosion took place, told MailOnline: ‘All we heard was an explosion and then the whole house shook.
‘The police have cordoned off the top half of our street but we haven’t been told to evacuate. We are about half way down our street but we still felt it.
‘My husband was quite quick and managed to get to the scene before police had cordoned it off. He said the shop has been completely flattened. We’ve seen the videos like everyone else, it’s shocking.’
Another said: ‘There were a loud bang and houses began to shake, there were tons of smoke and fire. Everyone on Carlisle street has been evacuated after an hour of the explosion.
‘The convenience store and flat above have been affected. A family member of mine had to evacuate from the area and is safe.
Beverley Kirk, who lives on a street adjacent to where the explosion took place, told the Mail Online that the whole house shook when the explosion took place
Another video, shared on Facebook, shows police reacting to the explosion.
Debris from the building has been blasted across both carriageways of Hinckley Road.
Eye-witness Tahir Khan said: ‘I was driving past when it happened.
‘Loads of people were gathered and there was gas and flames coming out of the building.
‘I looked on the road and half the building was on the road. Literally the whole of the side of the building had been blown out.
‘I couldn’t believe it, it was like a Hollywood movie.’
BBC journalist John Alexander said: ‘I live about 80 yards away from where it happened.
‘I felt a tremor, what felt like an earthquake shock and I heard a very low boom that sounded like a very very fast release of pressure.
‘I thought my house was going to fall down on top of me and all my neighbours have said the same thing.
‘I saw one guy get pulled out and he’ll be very lucky if he wasn’t killed.’
Tom Mellors, 33, who lives nearby, said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, it’s obviously a major incident.
‘I was at home and didn’t hear any explosion, which seems remarkable, but I began to hear a build-up of sirens and came out to find out what it was.
‘At first I thought it must be a bad crash, but as I got closer and could see the flames beginning to come out of the building, it became obvious what it was.’
A person living nearby told the MailOnline: ‘There were a loud bang and houses began to shake, there were tons of smoke and fire’
Mark Robins wrote: ‘Jesus, huge explosion Hinckley road area about 10 minutes ago. Can see the flames and endless sirens going off’.
Mrs Rawk said: ‘Huge fire on Hinckley Road, there was a huge explosion. Fire engines are trying put it out now. Leicester’.
Another added: ‘Explosion on or near Hinckley Road in Leicester. Whole house shook, loud bang, lots of smoke. Avoid the area – lots of sirens and no doubt they’re closing it off’.
It is not known whether anyone was in the shop when it ignited.
Another tweeted: ‘The Polish shop next to the bus stop has blown up. Avoid the area. Roads closed and lots of sirens in attendance. Smoke everywhere.’
The Londis convenienc shop, Western Park Store, was completely destroyed in the blast, pictured before the explosion
Shocked locals took to social media to share their shock at the explosion, with a number of images shared on Twitter and Facebook
People nearby took to Twitter to express their shock, with one user writing that their entire house ‘shook’ after the blast.
User Applepearmama said: ‘Not too many details at the moment, speculation of a gas explosion – possibly some hurt, nothing confirmed. My whole house shook though – it was a huge blast whatever caused it.’
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue escort service in DC confirmed that it was sending out six fire engines to the scene.
Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, took to Twitter to express her thoughts and prayers to the people injured in the explosion, and a tweet from Leicestershire police confirmed the explosion
A nearby resident told the Leicester Mercury that the blast was ‘pretty frightening’.
‘At about 7pm, we heard an absolutely massive explosion. It was pretty frightening.
‘We went to look out of the upstairs windows and saw loads of smoke, and then a few seconds later massive orange flames.’
A passer-by said: ‘The flames were absolutely huge. I’ll be amazed if someone hasn’t been killed or seriously injured.’
The explosion earlier in the night could be seen from a number of streets away with flames illuminating the night sky and emergency escort services in Washington DC rushing to the scene
Shocked locals reported hearing the explosion, with a number describing it as a ‘huge blast’
This photo shows a massive explosion in Leicester, with police warning that there has been a major incident on Hickley Road, after a convenience store blew up
A local journalist speaking to Sky news says people heard a large bang before the fire had started and the smoke was so thick you could taste it.
‘From where I’m seeing I can literally just see really, really thick black smoke,’ she said. ‘It’s chaos- there’s a helicopter overhead.’
Mother Cat Pattinson told Sky News that her entire house shook after the explosion and she was left fearing for her two children.
Their were reports of a large bang before the fire had started with one witness saying the smoke was so thick you could taste it
‘We live down the same street about 500 metres away from the blast has taken place and our whole house shook,’ she said. ‘There’s an awful lot of smoke. The whole area is cordoned off. I was more worried about the fact we could feel it.
‘You’re concerned about the cause of it and the safety of your children in the house.’
‘Hopefully whatever has happened has been contained now.
‘It definitely felt like an explosion had taken place. The building doesn’t seem to be there anymore it was a store with a flat on top of it. It looks like the whole thing has gone.
Footage showed emergency escort services in Washington DC rushing to the scene with a number of ambulances, police cars and at least six fire engines attending
The store itself is open till 9pm on a Sunday so I don’t think it’s going to be good news.’
James Dillon, a student leaving a friend’s house at the time of the blast, told Sky News: ‘We heard a massive explosion. The scene was literally covered in emergency escort services in Washington DC.’
Speaking from the scene just after 9pm, he reported that two ambulances had now left the scene.
A resident who lives in nearby Westcotes Drive, close to the blast, said: ‘I heard a huge bang and wondered what the hell it was.
‘I came out of the house and we saw the flames, but we couldn’t be sure exactly which shop it was.
‘This is a busy area and there are lots of people living in the area which has been cordoned off.
‘There are a lot of ambulances here, but I haven’t heard whether anyone has been injured.
‘But I’m beginning to think someone must have been injured in this.’
Photos and footage from the scene on Hinckley road show police tape blocking access to the site of the ‘massive explosion’