Birmingham gas explosion: Victim of house blast was woman, 79

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Watch: Drone footage captures the aftermath of the explosion

A woman found dead following a gas explosion at a house is understood to be 79-year-old Doreen Rees-Bibb.

Specialist fire crews examining the cause remained at the scene in Kingstanding, Birmingham, before demolition workers were due to move in.

A further five homes were damaged in Sunday's blast, with eight not yet deemed safe for residents' return.

Gas distributors Cadent said it had confirmed mains and service pipes in the area are sound and not the cause.

"The matter now lies with other agencies for further investigation," said Elliott Nelson, its network director for the West Midlands.

He added the company's thoughts are "with the family and friends of those impacted and everyone in this close-knit community".

A total of 21 people were forced to leave their homes after the explosion on Dulwich Road which also left a man seriously hurt.

Image source, PA Media
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Homes still standing did not fully escape the effects of the blast

West Midland Fire Service (WMFS) said its technical rescue unit continued to monitor the stability of neighbouring structures, to ensure work can be carried out safely and will be carefully excavating areas in the remains of the house, so parts of its gas supply can be accessed and examined.

Alex Shapland, area commander, said: "Our focus in the short term is to reduce or minimise any further impact. There's a lot of people who have been displaced within this road and within the surrounding area."

WMFS said it was working to reduce a 100-metre cordon.

While some residents had been able to return to their homes within the cordon, "this has not been possible at eight properties which were either damaged by the explosion or are still without gas", WMFS explained.

Image source, West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service
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West Midlands Fire and Rescue service said demolition work at the site will take place on Wednesday

The city council and its emergency planning team has helped find accommodation for those affected.

Neighbours Natasha and Giorgi Khizanishvili said houses six doors up had been left with "cracks in the ceiling" and around windows.

Mr Shapland repeated praise for the neighbourhood, saying: "There's been a lot of support from the communities, so we would like to thank the communities."

Firefighters on Monday praised the "heroic" efforts of residents who pulled the injured man from burning debris and wreckage.

A GoFundMe page has so far raised more than £1,400 for residents left "temporarily homeless" by the blast.

Some neighbours were given temporary lodgings in a nearby pub, including a man who said he had nothing apart from "clothes on our backs".

The fire and rescue service said it was likely demolition work would be needed at the scene, after which the next stage of investigations can be planned.

Image source, WMFS
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Residents rescued the seriously injured man from the rubble

West Midlands Police said it continued to support the work of the fire service and its local neighbourhood policing team are assisting the community and families who remain in temporary accommodation.

"Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of the man, who remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition in hospital, and the woman who sadly lost her life," it said.

"Our specialist family liaison officers are supporting her family at this very distressing time."

It said formal identification of the woman is likely to take some time.

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Floral tributes have been left close to the scene

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