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© PA
Emergency crews are pictured at the scene of the gas explosion this morning
An elderly man has been found buried in rubble after a house was 'completely destroyed' in a gas explosion, a horrified witness says.

The pensioner was reportedly found unconscious after the blast rocked the quiet, snowy village of Birstall, Leicestershire, this morning.

He was discovered with severe cuts to his head and a "flight of stairs on top of him" - but was still breathing, witness John Ketteringham claims.

Next door's bedroom was also ripped apart in the explosion, while a woman living opposite saw her own bedroom windows "blow in".

At least three people were injured in the blast, which occurred in Allington Drive at about 7.30am and was heard throughout the area.

One is said to be in a serious condition.

Shock as roof is blown off house in Yorkshire gas explosion

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© PA
At least three people have been injured after the blast rocked the quiet, snowy village of Birstall, Leicestershire
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© PA
The aftermath of the explosion, which affected a number of properties in the street

Meanwhile, nearly 100 properties have been left without electricity after engineers disconnected the mains for safety reasons.

Mr Ketteringham, 31, who lives nearby and was one of the first on the scene, described how the pensioner was discovered in the rubble.

He told the Leicester Mercury: "We found one old chap buried in the rubble. He had bad head lacerations, and was unconscious, with a flight of stairs on top of him, but he was still breathing.

"It looks like it was a gas explosion. I was woken up by the bang and pulled my clothes on and ran to do what I could to help."

He added: "There was a young boy who had just delivered the paper to the house that exploded. It was really lucky he wasn't hurt.

"The explosion threw bits of wood into the windows of the houses opposite, and all the cars have smashed windows."
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© Leicester Mercury
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed one semi-detached property had been involved in the gas explosion
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Nearly 100 properties have been left without electricity after engineers disconnected the mains for safety reasons

Margaret Burt, who lives opposite the house that was destroyed, recalled how she was in bed when she heard a "terrific bang".

She told the Mercury: "My bedroom windows blew in.

"It was terrifying. The whole house was gone.

"It's just a pile of rubble and next door lost a bedroom."

Police, paramedics and firefighters were sent to the scene after reports of the "bang" - which has since been confirmed as a gas explosion.

Officers said earlier two people were being treated by paramedics.

It has since emerged that at least three people were wounded.

Les Apse, who lives in Keswick Close, behind the house that blew up, claimed there was "talk yesterday of a smell of gas in the air".
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© Tom Mack/Leicester Mercury
An elderly man has reportedly been found buried in rubble after the house was 'completely destroyed' in the blast
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© PA
A woman living opposite the property in Allington Drive described seeing her own bedroom windows "blow in"

He also said: "The blast of the explosion pushed all my windows in at the back and woke us up. I thought our boiler had exploded.

"Then there was the sound of things smashing into our roof.

"The wife started screaming and crying. There were tiles and bits of glass and window all over the street."

Sarah Orton, 47, who lives a few doors down from the house, claimed there were two explosions before its roof "lit up red and orange".

She recalled: "I'd just left for work, and was a few doors away.

"There were two explosions. The first sounded like a firework, but it was a massive blast and I felt it push the back of my head.

"I turned around and saw the second explosion. The roof just lit up red and orange and things flew everywhere.
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Firefighters are pictured at the scene of the explosion, which is under investigation
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© Chris Gordon/Leicester Mercury
Neighbours reported seeing and hearing debris - including glass and window frames - being flung in all directions
"I'm just in shock. I can't believe what I've seen. There's stuff all over the road. Our doors were blown in, and our windows too."

Another local, Liam Owen, was also in Allington Drive, delivering a newspaper to the opposite house, when the blast went off.

"I was delivering the paper to the house opposite and a few doors up. It felt like someone pushed me in the back," he said.

"I thought, 'What was that?'

"There was a flash of light and bits were flying through the air.

"I've never experienced anything like it.

"I didn't know if there might be any more explosions, so I didn't want to go too close. I called 999.
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© Leicester Mercury/BPM MEDIA
Liam Owen, 34, was delivering papers in Allington Drive when the house exploded
"Right now I'm just not really thinking about it.

"If I'd been a bit earlier I could have been hurt."

Neighbours reported seeing and hearing debris - including glass and window frames - being flung in all directions following the explosion.

Carol Cooke, 46, who lives in nearby Wanlip Lane, said she awoke to an "almighty bang" before hearing emergency crews racing to the scene.

She added: "Hearing the bang was not nice. It was very scary. It's very shocking news, we are praying for the families involved."

The fire service said it had received "multiple calls" about the incident.

Crews at the scene include three from Leicester stations, one from Birstall, a technical rescue team from Leicester and the command support vehicle from Shepshed station.

Emergency services respond to scene of gas blast

In a statement, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the semi-detached property had been involved in a gas explosion.

It said the main house had collapsed, while the neighbouring property had partially collapsed. Six other properties have been partially affected.

The service said there was no fire reported and there is no smell of gas at this time. Full evacuation of surrounding homes has been carried out.

Leicestershire Police also issued a statement on the incident.

It said earlier: "Officers are at an address in Allington Drive, Birstall, at 7.33am this morning following reports of a loud bang and house being damaged.

"Police, along with the fire and ambulance service, are at the scene. Investigations in to the cause of the damage are in their very early stages.

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© Leicester Mercury
“Allington Drive is currently closed and is likely to remain so for a number of hours while inquiries are carried out," police said
"Allington Drive is currently closed and is likely to remain so for a number of hours while inquiries are carried out.

"Two people are injured and are being attended to by paramedics. The nature of their injuries is not known at this time.

"A number of houses in the street have been evacuated as a precaution."

The fire service has since confirmed there are three casualties, one of whom is serious.

Local Sarah Carr said she and her pals heard a loud bang, but initially believed it was snow falling off a building.

The bang was also apparently heard by motorists and pedestrians at least an eight-minute drive away from the scene of the blast.

Some speculated whether the area may have been hit by an earthquake.

However, it was later confirmed it was a gas explosion.

A motorist driving along Abbey Lane described hearing a "sort of dull thud in the distance" that was also noticed by pedestrians.

They said: "I was just passing the road where you turn off to get to the space centre when I heard a bang, a sort of dull thud in the distance.

"My son who was in the passenger seat asked what it was.

"A woman and a young girl crossing at traffic lights in front of us also turned round when they heard it. It was about 7.30am."

Meanwhile, David Voce, 50, of Worcester Avenue, revealed how he thought his own house was falling down after hearing a bang.

He said: "I jumped out of bed when I heard the bang.

"It was incredibly loud. I thought my house was falling down. There was no fire, just an explosion. There have been loads of ambulances."

And Muriel Robertson, 75, who lives in Allington Drive, recalled: "We just heard an almighty bang. There's quite a few houses damaged.

"I was asleep and I was woken up by the noise."
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© Leicester Mercury
Nearby properties on the street have been evacuated following the explosion

Western Power Distributon, which has engineers on site, said just under 100 homes in the area would be without power for the morning.

A spokesman said: "We have had to disconnect the electricity mains for safety reasons, which means there are about 95 properties in the area which will be without power for the rest of the morning."

Minibuses provided by Charnwood Borough Council were seen taking people evacuated from their homes to locations nearby.

Roy Rollings, Charnwood Borough Council councillor for Birstall Wanlip, said: "We are aware of a large explosion at a property in Birstall.

"Our first thoughts are with all those involved. @CharnwoodBC emergency plans are being put into place to help all involved."

Charnwood Borough Council said: "We're aware of the incident in Birstall and supporting the emergency services.

"We will be ensuring residents' welfare is looked after and have officers on the scene, including from our building control team."

Gas network company Cadent told the Mercury it was "too early to speculate on the cause" of the explosion.

A spokesperson said: "Earlier this morning we were called to attend an incident in Allington Drive, Birstall, Leicester.

"We are currently on site and our priority at this time is to make safe and we are working with the emergency services to achieve this.

"It's too early to speculate on the cause at this time."

This story is developing.