Tees

Evacuations after Hartlepool car blast death

Two cordons have been set up in Hartlepool and bomb disposal crews have been called in after a man's body was found in a car that had exploded.

The 58-year-old man, from Hartlepool, who has not been identified, was found in the early hours in the Old Cemetery Road area of the town.

Two police officers and three ambulance crew underwent chemical decontamination at the scene.

Cleveland Police said the incident was not believed to be terror-related.

They said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident, and are trying to trace the man's next of kin.

A 490ft (150m) cordon is in place around the vehicle and an 820ft (250m) cordon was set up around a flat in Mandale House, Navigation Point, where the man lived.

'Absolute care'

Another block of flats and a number of boats on Hartlepool Marina were also evacuated.

Police said there was no risk to the public beyond the cordon.

The two police officers and three ambulance staff suffered minor throat irritation and the decontamination process involved washing with soap and water. They were later released from hospital.

Cleveland Police said army bomb disposal experts from Catterick, in North Yorkshire, were aiding the investigation.

Up to 30 officers are at the scene of what police have described as "a major incident".

Police said officers had not yet entered the man's flat after taking advice from experts.

Blast injuries

Det Supt Gordon Lang said: "As a consequence of what's gone on in the early hours of this morning, we have to take absolute care as to how we proceed.

"We are ensuring that we have got the appropriate people with the appropriate expertise and the appropriate equipment to carry out a very safe, but thorough search."

Image caption Part of the marina was also cordoned off

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said officers were made aware of the blue Nissan Micra at about 0300 BST and discovered the man's body.

She said: "He had suffered injuries consistent with some kind of explosion which police can confirm had taken place within the vehicle.

"The immediate area was cordoned off and the fire brigade attended the scene. Inquiries are continuing."

The marina area is popular with visitors and has shops, bars and restaurants.

Some of those who were evacuated have gone to a rest centre at Hartlepool's Maritime Experience.

Mr Lang said: "I understand their frustration.

"There are businesses down there, there are homes down there, but I would urge people to be patient.

"It is about making sure that everybody is safe."

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