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Gas explosion injures three in Leicester

  • The semi-detached property in Birstall, Leicester, was completely destroyed in the blast at 7.30 this morning
  • Neighbours reported finding an unconscious elderly man with cuts to his head amongst the rubble
  • Photos from the scene show debris strewn across the street, windows blown out and doors hanging off hinges

By Joe Sheppard For Mailonline

Published: 04:35 EST, 11 December 2017 | Updated: 09:36 EST, 11 December 2017

Three people have been hurt after a house was blown to pieces by an early morning gas explosion that was so fierce it also damaged six neighbouring properties.

An elderly man was dramatically pulled alive from the rubble by rescuers, while the bedroom of a house next door was ripped away by the blast, injuring the couple living there.

Jeanette Jasper, 79, is said to be in a serious condition in a major trauma centre in Coventry after she was crushed by a wall as she lay in her bed. Her husband John, 80, who was in the kitchen at the time of the explosion, has also been hospitalised.

Neighbours reported hearing a 'supersonic bang' at around 7.30am when the semi-detached property in Leicester exploded.

Pictures from the site, in the Birstall area of the city, reveal debris strewn across the street, windows blown out and door frames hanging off their hinges.

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Three people have been hurt after a house was blown to pieces by an early morning gas explosion that was so fierce it also damaged six neighbouring properties

Three people have been hurt after a house was blown to pieces by an early morning gas explosion that was so fierce it also damaged six neighbouring properties

Neighbours reported hearing an 'almighty bang' at around 7.30am when the semi-detached property explodedNeighbours reported hearing an 'almighty bang' at around 7.30am when the semi-detached property exploded

Neighbours reported hearing an 'almighty bang' at around 7.30am when the semi-detached property exploded

Emergency services survey the scene of destruction amid the snow and ice this morning, with three people receiving injuriesEmergency services survey the scene of destruction amid the snow and ice this morning, with three people receiving injuries

Emergency services survey the scene of destruction amid the snow and ice this morning, with three people receiving injuries

The site as it appeared before the explosion. The property on the right is said to be owned by retired couple John and Janette JasperThe site as it appeared before the explosion. The property on the right is said to be owned by retired couple John and Janette Jasper

The site as it appeared before the explosion. The property on the right is said to be owned by retired couple John and Janette Jasper

An aerial photograph shows the devastation caused to a home in Leicester after an explosion in the early hours of todayAn aerial photograph shows the devastation caused to a home in Leicester after an explosion in the early hours of today

An aerial photograph shows the devastation caused to a home in Leicester after an explosion in the early hours of today

An aerial view of the site shows the shocking state of destruction caused by the explosion in Leicester this morningAn aerial view of the site shows the shocking state of destruction caused by the explosion in Leicester this morning

An aerial view of the site shows the shocking state of destruction caused by the explosion in Leicester this morning

An elderly man was dramatically pulled alive from the rubble by rescuers, while the bedroom of a house next door was said to have been ripped away by the blastAn elderly man was dramatically pulled alive from the rubble by rescuers, while the bedroom of a house next door was said to have been ripped away by the blast

An elderly man was dramatically pulled alive from the rubble by rescuers, while the bedroom of a house next door was said to have been ripped away by the blast

Two people were airlifted to hospital, one of whom was taken to a major trauma centre in a serious condition, while almost 100 homes have been left without power and several forced to be evacuatedTwo people were airlifted to hospital, one of whom was taken to a major trauma centre in a serious condition, while almost 100 homes have been left without power and several forced to be evacuated

Two people were airlifted to hospital, one of whom was taken to a major trauma centre in a serious condition, while almost 100 homes have been left without power and several forced to be evacuated

The cause of the explosion has not been identified though residents on the street said some reported smelling gas yesterdayThe cause of the explosion has not been identified though residents on the street said some reported smelling gas yesterdayThe cause of the explosion has not been identified though residents on the street said some reported smelling gas yesterdayThe cause of the explosion has not been identified though residents on the street said some reported smelling gas yesterday

The cause of the explosion has not been identified though residents on the street said some reported smelling gas yesterday

 Gas distribution company Cadent said it currently has engineers on site but added that it was 'too early to speculate on the cause' of the explosion Gas distribution company Cadent said it currently has engineers on site but added that it was 'too early to speculate on the cause' of the explosion

Gas distribution company Cadent said it currently has engineers on site but added that it was 'too early to speculate on the cause' of the explosion

John Kettringham was one of the first on the scene after hearing the explosion.

He said: 'We found one old chap buried in the rubble. He had bad head lacerations, and was unconscious, with a flight of stairs on top of him, but he was still breathing. It looks like it was a gas explosion.'

Tony Timson, 66, who lives several doors down from the house, said: 'I heard a gigantic explosion and looked out of the house to see debris flying through the air. The damage was catastrophic.

'As I came outside a window cleaner was on his way to work. He had stopped and was running up the road to help.

'Outside the house he said he could hear someone shouting that they were trapped, and started trying to dig him out when the fire service arrived.

'The firefighters immediately told everyone to back off and set up a cordon.. It was impressive how quickly they arrived.'

Newspaper deliveryman, Liam Owen, 34, described how he was working his round on the road when the building exploded.

He said: 'It felt like someone pushed me in the back. I thought, 'What was that?'

'There was a flash of light and bits were flying through the air. I've never experienced anything like it. Right now I'm just not really thinking about it. If I'd been a bit earlier I could have been hurt.'

Emergency services attend the scene of the explosion, which completely destroyed a house, in Birstall, Leicester this morningEmergency services attend the scene of the explosion, which completely destroyed a house, in Birstall, Leicester this morning

Emergency services attend the scene of the explosion, which completely destroyed a house, in Birstall, Leicester this morning

The semi-detached property has fallen down completely while the house next door has partially collapsedThe semi-detached property has fallen down completely while the house next door has partially collapsed

The semi-detached property has fallen down completely while the house next door has partially collapsed

Neighbours reported hearing an 'almighty blast' and one man said an elderly man was pulled out of the rubbleNeighbours reported hearing an 'almighty blast' and one man said an elderly man was pulled out of the rubble

Neighbours reported hearing an 'almighty blast' and one man said an elderly man was pulled out of the rubble

Another neighbour, whose back garden overlooks the property, said: 'You can see from here there is hardly any house left. All the roof tiles in the surrounding houses are in a mess too.

'I was sat with my son-in-law enjoying a cup of tea at 7:30 this morning when we saw a giant fireball go up and a huge boom shook the house.

'The noise was tremendous. Now I’ve seen the front of it, it looks more like a bombed out house you would see in a war zone, not in Leicester.'

Mr Jasper's brother Bernard, who lives nearby, said: 'My brother was downstairs making a cup of tea at the time and Janet was in bed upstairs.

'The dividing wall between the two properties collapsed on top of her basically crushing her in bed.

'She was airlifted to hospital in Coventry. Her condition is not good. We are all praying they are okay.

'John is conscious and his son Michael is with him. Their other son Anthony is with Janet.'

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, described the Jaspers as a 'lovely couple' and said they had been taken to different hospitals.

The person added: 'I last saw them two weeks ago and they were looking forward to Christmas. We always stopped for a chat. Apparently Mrs Jasper is in a bad way in hospital.

'Everyone is very shocked about what happened. It's a freak thing to happen. The explosion didn't happen in their house but they were badly injured.'

Residents in surrounding properties have been evacuated as emergency services attend the sceneResidents in surrounding properties have been evacuated as emergency services attend the scene

Residents in surrounding properties have been evacuated as emergency services attend the scene

Damage caused to neighbouring houses include broken doors and smashed windowsDamage caused to neighbouring houses include broken doors and smashed windows

Damage caused to neighbouring houses include broken doors and smashed windows

The local borough council has set up temporary emergency accommodation for evacuated residents at Birstall Village HallThe local borough council has set up temporary emergency accommodation for evacuated residents at Birstall Village Hall

The local borough council has set up temporary emergency accommodation for evacuated residents at Birstall Village Hall

One of the injured has been taken to Queen's Medical Hospital in Nottingham. Pictured: Police and fire crews at the sceneOne of the injured has been taken to Queen's Medical Hospital in Nottingham. Pictured: Police and fire crews at the scene

One of the injured has been taken to Queen's Medical Hospital in Nottingham. Pictured: Police and fire crews at the scene

A fourth person is said to be missing following the blast. Rescue teams are searching the areaA fourth person is said to be missing following the blast. Rescue teams are searching the area

A fourth person is said to be missing following the blast. Rescue teams are searching the area

Another neighbour, Leah Russell, said: 'I believe that the couple who lived in the attached house have also been lifted to separate hospitals. It was an older couple, and I heard they said they smelled gas yesterday and even called someone out – it's such a shame to think this could have been avoided.'

Ms Russell added that the man living in the exploded property had been due to move out the following week.

'I think he lived there alone,' she said.

The cause of the explosion has not been identified though residents on the street said some reported smelling gas yesterday.

Cadent Gas said it currently has engineers on site but added that it was 'too early to speculate on the cause'.

A spokesman for East Midlands Ambulance Service said: 'One patient has been taken by air ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, one patient has been taken by air ambulance to the Major Trauma Centre in Coventry, and one patient is due to be taken by ambulance to the Leicester Royal Infirmary.'

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that everyone had been accounted for after it was initially feared that a fourth person was missing following the blast.

Leicestershire Police said in a statement: 'Investigations in to the cause of the damage are in their very early stages.

'Allington Drive is currently closed and is likely to remain so for a number of hours while enquiries are carried out.'

Nearly 100 houses in the area have had their power turned off as a precaution, while emergency services search the scene.

A spokesman for Western Power Distributon told the Mecury: 'We have had to disconnect the electricity mains for safety reasons, which means there are about 95 properties in the area which will be without power for the rest of the morning.'

Allington Drive, where the explosions took place, has been closed off as police investigate the cause of the explosionAllington Drive, where the explosions took place, has been closed off as police investigate the cause of the explosion

Allington Drive, where the explosions took place, has been closed off as police investigate the cause of the explosion

Quentin Woodhouse, 61, who lives in Birstall, said: 'My mum lives opposite. She's 91. Her front door and windows all blew in.

'She was very lucky not to be hurt. She just said it was a very loud bang, no flames as such.

'And when she came outside it looked pretty much as it does now, with the roof blown off.'

Mr Kettringham added: 'I was woken up by the bang and pulled my clothes on and ran to do what I could to help.

'The explosion threw bits of wood into the windows of the houses opposite, and all the cars have smashed windows.'

Charnwood Borough Councillor Roy Rollings said that Birstall Village Hall had been set up for residents in need of emergency accommodation.

A spokesman for the local authority said: 'We will be ensuring residents' welfare is looked after and have officers on the scene, including from our building control team.'

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