'People trapped' after suspected gas explosion flattens homes in Oldham
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'People trapped' after suspected gas explosion collapses homes Oldham
One man has been rescued, but other people are feared trapped following a possible gas explosion that has collapsed a number of private rented terraced properties in Shaw, Oldham.
The explosion is believed to have happened in Buckley Street this morning with emergency services called to the scene shortly after 11:15am.
The rescued man - who has been taken to hospital - is believed to have suffered 80% burns.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service said it has received numerous calls from members of the public and, from that information, believed people were still trapped in the collapsed homes.
Read more at: http://live.menmedia.co.uk/Event/Gas_explosion_in_Shaw
More than 30 firefighters are at the scene and they have been carrying out a search of the immediate area. Gas engineers from National Grid are also understood to be present. Police are advising people to stay away from Buckley Street until the area is secure.
Specialist search and rescue teams, including a dog, are involved in the operation, including colleagues from Lancashire.
Homes belonging to housing association First Choice Homes Oldham are thought to be unaffected.
Sam Gibson, of Oak Road, which adjoins Buckley Street, told the Manchester Evening News: "There was a really strong smell of gas all morning and it was getting progressively worse as time went on but obviously you don't expect anything like this to happen.
"I was in my living room and heard this horrendous explosion and you could feel the earth shake. I live around 100 yards away yet it still felt like it had happened in my own house."
Another resident in nearby Duchess Street - a 13-minute walk away - said his house shook with "one terrific bang". He said: "I had to go out to Royton and saw at least five ambulances pass! I hope the casualties are minimal. Bad times."
Oldham Council says a rest centre is being set up at Crompton House school for people affected by the Shaw explosion. Refreshments & assistance is available.
National Grid confirmed that it received a report of a smell of gas in the Edmund Street and Buckley Street area of Shaw at 10.40am today.
A statement from the company said: "This was shortly followed by another call to report that there had been an explosion.
"Engineers arrived on site to find that five properties (no 7 to 13 Buckley Street) had been badly damaged.
"So far, National Grid engineers have been unable to get into these properties to conduct an investigation but the gas mains in Buckley Street and Chancery Lane have been cut off for safety."
Around 100 homes in the area have been evacuated.