© Daily Mail
  • Residents of Clacton, Essex reported hearing a loud bang 'like a bomb going off' at 8.30am thanks to gas explosion
  • Four fire engines, five ambulances and two air ambulances called to scene and took 10 people to hospital
  • Passers-by who helped pull victims from the rubble said they were shocked to find residents still alive
Nine people were hurt yesterday as a massive gas blast flattened two houses on an estate.

A retired couple were seriously injured but miraculously no one was killed in the 8.30am explosion.

David Davies, 65, was in bed and his wife Hela, 56, in the kitchen when the huge blast - which neighbours said was 'like a bomb' - sent debris flying up to 150 yards along the street in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.

The couple, who have three grown-up children, were rescued from the debris in their pyjamas by shocked residents who rushed to help. They were taken to hospital with severe burns.

Seven neighbours were also taken to hospital following the explosion, which fire chiefs believe could have been caused by a badly installed boiler or appliance.

Gary Curtis, 27, ran to help rescue Mr and Mrs Davies after the blast smashed his windows. 'It was like a bomb going off, he said. 'You could just hear screams coming from the rubble.

'The woman had somehow survived in a protective tunnel that had formed above her from the wreckage. When we pulled her out she had burns all up her arms, her pyjamas were singed. Her husband was still in bed covered in debris.

'It is a miracle that no one is dead. There is a primary school 100 yards up the road and a bus stop just outside the house.'

The Davies's home in Cloes Lane was destroyed. The adjoining semi was also wrecked. Its occupants Jack Whitby, 69, his son Ray, 47, and daughter-in-law Kim, 56, were taken to hospital.

Mrs Whitby's son Craig Stagg, 23, had been staying in their loft conversion, which was ripped apart - but escaped the blast as he had changed his shift as a care worker and was out.

His step-brother John Clitheroe, 45, who lives nearby, said: 'Craig should have been there but luckily he swapped his shift with a friend at the last minute. It doesn't bear thinking what could have happened.'

Mrs Whitby, a support worker, who suffered cuts and bruises, said: 'I've lost everything but I am just happy to be alive - I know we are very lucky.

'I was in bed and I just heard a huge bang. The whole ceiling had fallen in and I could see into the garden. Some bloke just dragged me out of the rubble and on to the pavement.'

Devastation: Residents of the local area said the noise of the explosion sounded 'like a bomb'.
St Clare's Roman Catholic primary school in Cloes Lane was also reported to have been evacuated following the blast.

A spokesman for Essex Fire Service, which sent four engines to the scene, said: 'Firefighters have been called to an explosion in a house. The house is on fire and there are multiple casualties reported.

'Firefighters are searching the rubble and dealing with multiple casualties with various injuries. The area is being cordoned off and people are being asked to avoid the vicinity so that emergency crews can do their work.'

Incident commander Lee Palfreyman said that five people had been taken to hospital, one of whom had suffered 'life-threatening injuries', while five more were treated at the scene.

He added: 'The blast flattened two houses and badly damaged a third. Debris flew in all directions damaging windows and roofs.

'Crews are continuing their work at the scene. The evacuation of properties is now complete and the Gas Board are in attendance assessing the scene.'

Teresa Reed, a lollipop lady who lives in the area, described hearing a 'huge bang' as she walked to work.

'Apparently people heard it in the middle of town but I had no idea what it was,' she added. 'It shook the ground and knocked people out of bed.'

Andrew Woodfield wrote on Twitter: 'My whole house just shook like an explosion gone off in Clacton or something! Anyone know anything??'

Scott Chamberlain tweeted: 'What the hell was that? Sounded like an explosion somewhere, the whole house shook and can now hear A LOT of sirens?!'

The East of England Ambulance Service said: 'Critical care has been given to two people following a house explosion in Clacton. They have been taken to Broomfield Hospital, and eight others have been taken to Colchester General Hospital (CGH) following the incident in Cloes Lane this morning.

'A paramedic response car was at the scene in just over 3 minutes after several 999 calls were received at 8.27am.

'A man, believed to be in his 70s, was airlifted to Broomfield Hospital in a life-threatening after being anaesthetised on scene by air ambulance paramedics. A woman, believed to be in her 50s, was taken to Broomfield with severe burns.

'The other casualties were taken with serious and minor injuries to CGH. Injuries include burns, and trauma injuries such as broken legs.

'Five ambulances, several ambulance incident officers, the hazardous area response team (HART) and two air ambulances attended the scene and treated casualties on scene before they were taken to hospital.'
© Daily Mail