A huge explosion has left seven people injured and a gaping hole in a row of houses in Kent
Several people were believed to have been trapped following the blast in Willesborough, Ashford, and had to be freed by emergency services.
Two people were taken to hospital in London with serious injuries, South East Coast Ambulance Service said, while five others were taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with injuries thought to be less serious.
Officers worked to establish if anyone was missing while local residents were evacuated from the scene in Mill View.
All residents were subsequently accounted for and the explosion is not being treated as suspicious at this stage, police said.
Much of a house was destroyed in the explosion, with the chimney remaining standing.
‘Hectic’ aftermath of explosion
Local resident and journalism student Chantal Weller described the “hectic” aftermath of the explosion with people panicking, but said things have since calmed down as the fire was brought under control.
She told the PA news agency she felt her house shake at 8am, “like something had literally flown into the side of it”.
The 20-year-old added: “It didn’t make a lot of noise, but there was a big shudder.
“I looked out the window and saw a lot of people looking down the road and looking worried.
“I walked out onto the street and could see lots of police cars whizzing past down Osborne Road to get to the house. There were people everywhere because of the school run.”
What the fire service has said
Firefighters from seven fire engines have been tackling the blaze and working to extinguish the last remaining signs of fire.
Fire officer Paul Ramsden told reporters at the scene that the road would have to be dug up in order to properly isolate the gas and electricity.
Asked about the people who had been evacuated from nearby homes, he added: “What we’re looking to do at the moment is obviously isolate the gas and electricity and then start to bring that cordon back in, into a close proximity when we know it’s safe to do so.
“Then we can start a phased approach of allowing people to come back into the property.”
Members of the public have been urged to avoid the area and residents have been asked to keep their windows closed.
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.