Man killed and four injured in Newark house blast

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Media captionAn eyewitness describes how the building exploded as he was walking past with his family

Rescuers searching the remains of a house in Nottinghamshire that was destroyed in an explosion have found the body of man.

Four other people - a man, a woman and two children - were taken to hospital after the blast had reduced the house in Wright Street, Newark, to rubble.

The search for a missing sixth person who may still be inside will resume when the property is made safe.

Gas has been blamed for Sunday's blast, which happened at about 17:10 BST.

The dead man and the injured have not yet been named, while around 100 people living nearby were forced to leave their homes in the aftermath of the explosion.

Some of them are spending the night at the nearby Grove Leisure Centre.

Newborn baby

Police said the woman and two children were treated for the effects of breathing in smoke and subsequently discharged from Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre.

The man was taken to hospital with serious injuries and smoke inhalation and is still being treated.

Cormac Fleming, from Newark, witnessed the blast and helped with the rescue effort, plucking a newborn baby from the neighbour's damaged house.

"I live just a couple of streets away and was first on the scene, with my wife and two kids. We were walking our dog and got within 8ft of the house, when it exploded right in front of us," he said.

"The sheer force of the blast knocked my son off his bike. I rang 999 straight away.

"One house was completely destroyed and the house next to it was half-blown up.

"I then noticed a curtain moving in the house next door. I, and another man, smashed the window and next thing I was being handed a newborn baby."

He said a five-year-old and his mother, who was cut and in shock, followed the baby out.

Image caption Neighbours helped rescue a man from the rubble after the explosion
Image caption The blast destroyed one house and damaged the neighbouring property
Image caption Witnesses said the explosion sounded like a bomb
Image caption Neighbours in Newark have been told to stay in doors and keep windows closed

They were led away from the rubble before Mr Fleming and the man returned to the house to try and help.

"We tried to see if anyone was in it from the back but it soon caught fire, so we pulled back and waited for the fire service to arrive."

'Like a bomb'

Isla McDonald, who lives opposite the damaged house, said: "We saw this smoke. A man was crawling through the debris and he was bleeding. The whole house had come down.

"We got him out and carried him up the path away from the smoke. The whole of the house was on fire this side. It was so frightening.

"We put something on his head, he said 'My wife's upstairs and my granddad is in the cellar'," she added.

Eduart Pergjejji also helped pull the man out of the rubble.

"The whole house was all down. It was insane," he said. "I've never seen anything like it. It's all down, the bricks have fallen on the street.

Image caption Police officers wearing face masks were helping the fire service crews

"It was really like a huge bomb exploding."

A visibly shaking Jane Henson said the house had been completely destroyed. She was the first to call 999 and provided the operator with a running commentary.

She said: "I felt the house shake. I looked out of the window and there was thick, black smoke.

"There were just people running everywhere shouting 'There's a bomb gone off' and just panic. It's awful, terrible."

Pirita Suomela, who lives nearby and was on the scene within minutes, said: "From where I was standing it looked like complete destruction."

She said she heard a loud bang and went outside to see "huge clouds of smoke coming up behind the trees".

A man was lying disorientated in the street with blood on his face.

"Within a minute of this I saw what can only be described as a tornado of smoke rising up with violent flames blasting a long way over the footpath, immediately in front of the house," she added.

Police advised residents to stay indoors and keep windows closed in the aftermath of the explosion to reduce the effects of dust and any gas fumes.

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