Four people are fighting for life after a massive explosion ripped through a shop and flat in Leicester.
Police declared a “major incident” after flames erupted from the store following a suspected gas explosion on Sunday evening.
Rubble was blown into the street and smoke billowed into the air as the blaze completely destroyed both a Polish convenience store and flat above.
Four people have been rushed to Leicester Royal Infirmary in a critical condition, officials confirmed.
It is not clear how many other people have suffered injuries.
Residents living close to the store, which is located in Hinkley Road about a mile from city centre, reported their houses shaking after the blast at about 7pm.
Emergency services, including six fire engines, rushed to the scene.
A spokeswoman for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue said the incident was being treated as a search and rescue operation.
Speaking to Sky News, Kat Pattinson who lives on the same road as the fire, said: “We are down the same street – about 500 metres from where the blast has taken place and our whole house shook.
“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.
One person wrote on Twitter: “Jesus, huge explosion Hinckley road area about 10 minutes ago. Can see the flames and endless sirens going off.”
Another said: “Explosion on or near Hinckley Road in Leicester. Whole house shook, loud bang, lots of smoke.
“Avoid the area – lots of sirens and no doubt they’re closing it off.”
Police advised people to stay away from the area.
A spokesman for Leicestershire Police said: There has been a major incident on Hinckley Road, Leicester.
“All emergency services are currently dealing with this. Carlisle Street and part of Hinckley Road have been closed. Please avoid the area.”
Police added that there are currently no indications of terrorist activity and businesses and homes close to the scene have been evacuated.