Leicester explosion: Four people confirmed dead after flames rip through shop and flat

Four people have died after an explosion ripped through a building in Leicester, police confirmed.

Flames erupted from the property, believed to be a house and flat, on Sunday night leaving a further four people in hospital.

Emergency crews worked through freezing temperatures overnight as part of a huge “search and rescue operation” at the site of the blast in Hinckley Road. 

Firefighters sifted through the rubble of the collapsed building in the search for survivors.

The aftermath of the explosion on Sunday (REUTERS)

Shocking footage showed flames billowing into the night sky as the fire engulfed what is believed to be a convenience store.

One clip appeared to show emergency services rushing to help someone close to the flames.

Flames rip through the building at the scene of the explosion in Leicester (PA)

The building appears to have stood next to a shop called TJ’s Takeaway.

Andrew Brodie, the assistant chief fire officer for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, tweeted that conditions were “arduous” for firefighters as they worked through a “bitterly cold night”.

But he praised their “tremendous effort”.

Leicester explosion

Speaking to Sky News, Kat Pattinson, who lives on the same road as the fire, told how her “whole house shook” when the blast happened.

She added: “We checked on our children first and foremost and then we went outside.

“There is just an awful lot of smoke here at the moment and the whole area is cordoned off.”

She added that the shop on fire is usually open until about 9pm on a Sunday, and has a flat above it.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue said it began receiving calls from concerned members of the public at 7.03pm.

A spokeswoman said six fire engines had been requested and that the affected property was a two-floor building with a loft conversion that had suffered a “pancake collapse”.

Hinckley Road was closed between the junction with Woodville Road and Westcotes Drive, while Carlisle Street was also shut.

Witness Tahir Khan said: “I was driving past when it happened.

“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.

“I couldn’t believe it, it was like a Hollywood movie.” 

BBC journalist John Alexander said: “I live about 80 yards away from where it happened.

“I felt a tremor, what felt like an earthquake shock and I heard a very low boom that sounded like a very, very fast release of pressure.

“I thought my house was going to fall down on top of me and all my neighbours have said the same thing.”

Police say an investigation will take place to establish the cause of the fire, but say there is currently no indication that it is terrorist-related.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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