LONDON (AFP) – Four people were killed in an explosion and fire at a three-storey building in the central English city of Leicester, police said on Monday (Feb 26).
“At this stage, there are four confirmed fatalities and four people remain in hospital, one with serious injuries,” Leicestershire police said in a statement about the blast on Sunday evening.
Officers said there was no indication the explosion was related to terrorism but the cause had yet to be determined.
Firefighters worked through the night to control the blaze, which tore through the building in a residential area west of Leicester’s city centre.
“The cause of the explosion will be the subject of a joint investigation by the police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service,” local police said in a statement.
“We would ask that the media and public do not speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident, but at this stage there is no indication this is terrorist related.”
Businesses and homes in the immediate vicinity were evacuated and those impacted were taken to a local police station as a temporary measure, police said.
Electricity supply to a number of properties in the area was cut while emergency services dealt with the incident, it added.
Police Superintendent Shane O’Neill warned that the toll may yet rise further.
“We believe there may be people who have not yet been accounted for and rescue efforts continue in order to locate any further casualties,” he said.
Pictures and videos posted on social media showed a property engulfed in flames, with rubble and debris scattered around.https://twitter.com/FootballEars/status/967855151301189632
Graeme Hudson told AFP he lives close to the scene and felt the blast. “It was very scary,” he said.
“I live five minutes away... but my house shook. I went out and saw massive smoke and big flames.
“I quickly went out to see what’s happened,” he added. “(I) didn’t stay for long there because (I felt) unsafe for my 11-year-old son.”