Leicester explosion: Six hurt as blast destroys shop

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London, Feb 26 (IANS) Six persons have been taken to hospital after an explosion destroyed a shop in Leicester in Britain, officials said.

Police declared a “major incident” after reports of a blast in Hinckley Road area in Leicester on Sunday, BBC reported.

A police spokesman said: “At this stage there is no indication this is terrorist related.”

Two of the six injured in hospital are in critical condition and the others are “walking wounded”, said the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Carlisle Street and part of Hinckley Road have been closed and people are being asked to avoid the area. Electricity has been cut off for a number of properties.

Angel Namaala lives opposite the shop, believed to be a convenience store, and told the BBC she had heard “this big thud, like an earthquake”.

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“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.

Leicestershire Police said: “The cause of the explosion will be the subject of a joint investigation by the police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service.”

Six fire engines were sent to the scene and a fire service spokeswoman said crews were involved in a “search and rescue” operation.

The property was a two-floor building with a loft conversion that had suffered a “pancake collapse”, she added.

All of the casualties have been taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary and people have been asked not to attend A&E unless “absolutely necessary”.

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The explosion took place with such force that glass and debris were scattered across all four lanes of the dual carriageway.

Earlier, dozens of onlookers gathered — many with scarves over their mouths, or jumpers pulled up, to avoid breathing in fumes.

Witnesses said the destroyed shop had flats above it, and at least one of those injured is thought to have been a resident.

Alpana Marwaha, who lives near the scene, told the BBC: “I heard a bang and the house shook. We could see the flames.

“You can still see the smoke coming, and the emergency services. There are a few shops there and it is surrounded by houses.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service said that crews from the West Midlands and Yorkshire had responded to other 999 calls near the border while they dealt with the incident in Leicester.

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