London

Five hurt as gas explosion rips apart Earlsfield flat

Flat explosion Image copyright Johannes Rueter
Image caption Emergency services were called to Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, at 07:25 BST

Five people have been injured in a gas explosion at a block of flats in south-west London.

Residents in Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, said they heard an "enormous bang" at 07:25 BST which "rocked" neighbouring houses and left debris strewn about.

A man in his 80s was rescued from the building and taken to hospital in a critical condition. A man from an adjacent flat also went to hospital.

The Met said three others were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Image copyright LFB
Image caption A 25m (82ft) cordon has been put in place around the three-storey block

One woman who lives close by told the BBC she thought the "enormous bang... might have been a bomb or a train crash" after it "rocked" her house.

"It was so loud, it almost threw me out of bed," she said.

BBC Radio London correspondent Greg McKenzie said the property had been "decimated" in the blast, with both the front and back walls blown out.

Image caption The back wall of the flat was also blown out during the explosion

Police said the elderly man who was found inside the flat was critically injured, while the man in a neighbouring property was treated in hospital for shock.

Sgt John Nicolaou said it was believed the explosion happened on the ground floor of the building.

"The Health and Safety Executive will be informed in due course and the gas board are at the scene now," he said.

Waseem Hanif, a spokesman for gas distribution company SGN, said it was "too early to speculate" how the explosion happened but engineers had "made safe the gas supply at the premises and carried out safety checks".

Image copyright Camille Marek
Image caption Motorists have been advised to avoid the area

A 25m (82ft) cordon was put in place around the three-storey block "as a precaution" but the building "has been deemed as safe for residents", the fire brigade said.

Roads were closed around Garratt Lane but have since been reopened.

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