London, Feb 26 (IANS) At least four people have died in a massive explosion at a shop in the central British city of Leicester, the police said on Monday.
Another four people remained in hospital following a “major incident” in Hinckley Road at about 7 p.m. on Sunday, said the Leicestershire Police.
Emergency services were still at the blast site on Monday morning, after fire crews worked around the clock digging through rubble and to put out the blaze ignited by the powerful blast, the Telegraph reported.
Police said the toll may rise further as a number of people were still unaccounted for. At this stage, the explosion is not being linked to terrorism, said Superintendent Shane O’Neill.
The shop, believed to be a convenience store, was on the ground level of a building that also houses a two-storey flat above. Residents living nearby reported their houses shaking with force from the blast.
Witnesses said at least one of those injured is thought to have been a resident of the flat.
Pictures and video shared on social media showed locals rushing to try and help people from the rubble in the immediate aftermath.
Angel Namaala, who lives opposite the shop, told the BBC she had heard “this big thud, like an earthquake”.
“The building had gone down and people were trying to help where they could by taking the bricks off. But the fire was getting bigger and bigger so people were told to leave the scene,” she said.
The explosion took place with such force that glass and debris were scattered across all four lanes of the dual carriageway.
Another eyewitness Tahir Khan said: “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.”
“It was like a Hollywood movie,” he said.