Seven injured as explosion leaves gaping hole in row of houses
By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent and Megan Baynes, PA
Seven people have been injured after a huge explosion left a gaping hole in a row of houses in Kent.
Several people were believed to have been trapped following the blast in Willesborough, Ashford, and had to be freed by emergency services.
Two people were taken to hospital in London with serious injuries, South East Coast Ambulance Service said, while five others were taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with injuries thought to be less serious.
Officers worked to establish if anyone was missing while local residents were evacuated from the scene in Mill View.
All residents were subsequently accounted for and the explosion is not being treated as suspicious at this stage, police said.
Much of a house was destroyed in the explosion, with the chimney remaining standing.
Local resident and journalism student Chantal Weller described the “hectic” aftermath of the explosion with people panicking, but said things have since calmed down as the fire was brought under control.
She told the PA news agency she felt her house shake at 8am, “like something had literally flown into the side of it”.
The 20-year-old added: “It didn’t make a lot of noise, but there was a big shudder.
“I looked out the window and saw a lot of people looking down the road and looking worried.
“I walked out onto the street and could see lots of police cars whizzing past down Osborne Road to get to the house. There were people everywhere because of the school run.”
Firefighters from seven fire engines have been tackling the blaze and working to extinguish the last remaining signs of fire.
Members of the public have been urged to avoid the area and residents have been asked to keep their windows closed.
Firefighters were called to Mill View at 7.57am on Tuesday.
A spokesman from the South East Coast Ambulance Service said: “Two patients have been taken to hospital in London with serious injuries.
“A further five patients have been taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with injuries thought to be less serious.
“We remain at the scene in support of our emergency service colleagues.”
A spokesman for Kent Police said earlier on Tuesday: “A number of people were reported to have been trapped and they were freed by emergency services.”
The Salvation Army has set up a centre at a local village hall to provide support to those who have been evacuated.