Copper theft causes gas explosion at Runcorn flats

Scene of the blast in Richard Close Most of the occupants were moved to a nearby community centre

A gas explosion at a block of flats in Runcorn is believed to have been caused by thieves stealing copper piping, a police investigation has revealed.

About 50 people were evacuated after an explosion at the building on Richard Close, Castlefields, at 0525 GMT.

Occupants had reported a smell of gas prior to the blast.

Police said it was "a miracle" that nobody was injured. Residents will not be allowed back into the flats until a structural survey is completed.

Occupants were taken to a nearby community centre and are now understood to be making arrangements to spend the night with relatives and friends.

Most of the flats had their windows blown out by the force of the blast.

Sgt Simon Hignett said: "How people can be so reckless and put lives at risk in order to steal some metal is beyond me and these people need to be caught.

"It is a miracle no one was injured as a result of this explosion.

"The cause is believed to be down to copper piping being stolen and I am keen to speak to anyone who may have seen people acting suspiciously in the area."

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