Oxford

Oxford explosion: Flats 'very unstable' after blast

Buildings next to the site of the explosion
Image caption Buildings next to the site of the explosion are "very unstable"

Nearby buildings remain "very unstable" after an explosion at flats which may have killed a man.

The blast happened in the Osney Lane and Gibbs Crescent area of Oxford on Tuesday afternoon, causing a three-storey block of flats to collapse.

Expert structural engineers have been brought in to help the fire service.

Police "strongly believe" 48-year-old Guido Schuette died in the explosion and is underneath the debris. The cause of the blast is still unknown.

Image copyright Stan Mackrell
Image caption The three-storey corner block of flats collapsed

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

A fire service spokesman said: "Some adjoining buildings have in the past 24 hours proved to be very unstable and are requiring considerable delicate work to make safe."

Thames Valley Police has appealed for the public to look out for Mr Schuette while his death remains unconfirmed.

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

Image copyright Alexander Hammonds
Image caption The explosion had caused a building collapse
Image caption Guido Schuette is believed to have died in the explosion

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."

About 40 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.

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