Oxford

Oxford explosion: Man missing as recovery mission starts

Emergency services at Osney
Image caption Fire investigators and dog search units cannot access the site until it is made safe

A recovery operation is under way following an explosion near a block of flats in Oxford where a man is still missing.

The blast happened in the Osney Lane and Gibbs Crescent area at about 16:45 GMT on Tuesday, causing a three-storey building to collapse.

Search and rescue teams are making the pile of debris safe by propping up walls and removing loose brickwork before searching underneath the rubble.

The cause of the blast is unknown.

The missing man has been named by police as 48-year-old Guido Schuette, who they "strongly believe" died in the explosion and is underneath the debris.

Image caption Guido Schuette is believed to have died in the explosion

But Thames Valley Police has appealed for the public to look out for him while his death remains unconfirmed, in case he is missing.

He is 6ft tall of heavy build, short grey hair, and blue eyes. According to the description, he walks with a limp and uses a crutch.

Dog search

Supt Joe Kidman said: "Our strong hypothesis is that Guido died in the fire, and we are continuing to offer support to his family at this time.

"Given the circumstances of the incident, we are asking members of the public not to approach Guido but to call 999 immediately."

Police said fire investigators and dog search units could not access the site until it was "fully safe".

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: "Once these safety measures are in place a police dog will carry out a search of the debris pile and then firefighters will start to remove the rubble so a search can be undertaken to confirm if anybody is under the rubble.

"This will then allow detectives, fire investigators and crime scene investigators to determine the cause of the incident."

Image caption The council said 40 households were displaced, with 19 still unable to return
Image copyright Alexander Hammonds
Image caption A three-storey building collapsed in the blaze

Forty firefighters fought the blaze, and 60 people remain at the scene as part of a joint operation between police, councils, and the ambulance and fire services.

A number of properties were evacuated, with the Red Cross providing assistance.

The council said 40 households were displaced, with 19 still unable to return.

Dawn Wightman, A2Dominion housing director, called it a "very difficult time for our residents".

Two people were treated for minor injuries and one was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital following the blast.

Incident commander Julian Green said: "Clearly the sequence of events has to be to make the buildings safe first before the removal of rubble begins, so as to ensure safety of personnel.

"We are expecting to start removing rubble later today, working with fire and police investigators alongside to determine the cause."

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