Oldham explosion: Child dies as house 'completely flattened'
Published: 26th Jun 2012 15:55:57
A child has died in an explosion which "completely flattened" a house in the Shaw area of Oldham.
At least one person is believed to be trapped after five terraced houses were damaged in the suspected gas blast, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.
One man was taken to hospital with 80% burns, while another person remains unaccounted for. Firefighters are searching the rubble in Buckley Street.
National Grid said there was a report of a "gas escape" at 10:40.
One hundred homes have been evacuated and Oldham Council has set up a rest centre at Crompton House School in Rochdale Road for residents removed from their homes.
Supt Neil Evans, of GMP, said: "What I am now able to confirm is that there has been at least one fatality.
"That is believed to be a young child from one of the addresses and the next of kin has been informed of that fact."
He said in addition to the man taken to hospital, another man was unaccounted for, while another person was known to be trapped.
He said: "One individual we can see, we are trying to remove debris to get that person out."
He added that "urgent inquiries" were being made to try to locate the person who was so far unaccounted for.
A fire service helicopter with listening equipment is at the scene trying to detect if people are trapped in the rubble.
Jonathan Ali, BBC Radio Manchester
At the moment, fire and rescue teams from across the North West are preparing to start their fingertip search of the devastated area.
They are going to be using their search and rescue dog Echo to search through the rubble of these brick terraced houses.
The explosion was so big it was felt as far as half a mile away by people living across Shaw.
The shockwaves of the blast broke windows, set off car alarms, and littered the tightly packed streets in the area with fragments of roof slates.
The centre of Shaw is at a standstill and the people who live here have been left shocked by the devastation.
North West Ambulance Service said the burns victim had been taken to Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester.
More than 30 firefighters are at the scene.
Specialist search and rescue teams, including a dog, are involved in the operation and extra teams have been drafted in from neighbouring Lancashire Fire Service.
Alex Perkins, who lives across the road, said: "It's like a war zone - tiles that have blown off literally across the streets, there's just debris everywhere. It's mad.
"It's just empty, there's nothing there, just bricks on the floor, just rubble."
Georgian Ulla, who also lives on the street, said her house "shook like it was an earthquake".
"All the lights shook - I thought someone was breaking in to begin with," she said.
"First thing that I saw was all the toys on the floor. Apparently there are kids that live in the house."
Shaw ward councillor Mark Alcock, who lives a quarter of a mile away, described the scene as "utter carnage".
"An end-terrace house has been completely flattened and properties up to 800m away have had their windows blown in," he said.
"It's a real mess… we understand there are people trapped in other properties," he added.
Peter Travis, who works nearby, said: "I heard the loudest bang you could ever hear, then I could see bits of slate going through the air like ticker tape.
"Bits of slate were landing near us about 250 metres away.
"I could then hear alarms going off and then a silence, it was absolutely frightening."
Craig Needham who runs a nearby garage, said staff ran outside when they heard the explosion.
"We could just see a black plume, we thought a bomb had dropped," he said.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Oldham explosion: Child dies as house 'completely flattened'. [Online] (Updated 26 Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.manchesterwired.co.uk/news.php/1436951-Oldham-explosion-Child-dies-as-house-completely-flattened [Accessed 14th June 2013]
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