London

Hyatt Regency London 'gas blast' probe begins after 14 hurt

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPeople staying at the hotel said the building shook

An investigation has started into a suspected gas explosion at a luxury hotel that injured 14 people.

The five-star Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill, in Portman Square, Marylebone, was evacuated following the blast shortly before midnight.

London Ambulance Service said five of the injured were taken to hospital, including two with leg wounds.

The explosion in the hotel's basement caused part of the building to collapse, London Fire Brigade said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Debris outside the Hyatt hotel after the blast

About 500 people were moved to nearby hotels after the explosion at about 23:40 GMT. The hotel has more than 400 guest rooms.

The National Grid is trying to identify the cause of the blast, while London Fire Brigade said it is believed to have been caused by a gas leak, and is carrying out its own investigation.

Jeanette Unsworth, spokeswoman for the National Grid, said: "We were waiting for the emergency services to do their work of getting the injured people out, and we'll be on scene today investigating to establish the exact cause."

'Pretty intense'

About 80 firefighters went to the blast, including fire engines with specialist equipment to deal with collapsed buildings.

A hotel spokesman said no guests were harmed but 12 staff were treated for injuries. It said guests were accommodated in other hotels while the damage was being assessed.

Raymond Reyes, a guest at the hotel, described the scene as "chaos" after the blast happened.

"The floor shook and there was a loud explosion simultaneously. The power went out, it was pitch dark," he said.

Nawaf Albarrak was staying at the Radisson hotel across the street at the time of the blast, but had meant to be staying at the Hyatt that night.

"I felt it, I heard the sound. I thought it might be an accident, a car crashing," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The five-star Hyatt Regency London

BBC journalist Richard Main, of BBC London 94.9, said it was understood the explosion had happened in the hotel's kitchens.

He said some of the hotel staff were treated for relatively minor injuries including a suspected broken leg.

Dennis Luwer, who lives opposite the hotel, said a hole had been blown in the side of the building.

He said: "It's been pretty intense. We just came home and saw lots of people standing outside.

Image copyright Dennis Luwer
Image caption About 80 firefighters were at the scene

"The street has been blocked off. There is a big hole in the outer wall of the Hyatt. It's about two metres high and a metre wide.

"There's a metal garage door bulged out. We can see some windows at street level also blown out."

A spokesman for the hotel said: "Hyatt's top priority is the safety and well-being of our guests and associates, and we are currently working to provide guests with accommodations while we evaluate whether the hotel suffered any significant damage."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites