An unknown number of people are feared to have died after a suspected gas explosion caused a building to collapse this morning.
The blast is thought to have occurred at around 6.20am this morning in Ealing, West London, at a phone shop and barbers with flats above them.
Five people including a child were rescued by firefighters by the back of the building using ladders.
Another 16 people, including two children, fled from surrounding buildings and a specially trained sniffer dog is at the scene to see if anybody has been left behind.
As London Fire Brigade’s search continues this afternoon, station commander Paul Morgan said in a statement: ‘Sadly we believe that there are fatalities within the property although we’re unable to confirm numbers at this stage.
‘The explosion caused substantial damage to the shop and structural damage throughout.
‘It is a painstaking and protracted incident with firefighters working systematically to stabilise the building and search for people involved. We’d ask for people to avoid the area at this time.’
The Metropolitan Police has urged people to stay away for the area while rescuers secure the scene.
London Fire Brigade confirmed around 40 firefighters from across West London were at the scene in King Street.
Owner of Dr Phone, a shop damaged by the explosion, said he was ‘shocked’ when a neighbour called to tell him what happened.
He told the Evening Standard: ‘It’s an absolute mess. I don’t know if anyone was hurt or who was living upstairs. There is too much I have lost in there
‘I locked up my shop as usual last night and didn’t think anything was wrong. Then I got a phone call from a neighbour to get down here that my shop was totally destroyed.’
Another business owner says his shop ‘shook’, adding: ‘We hear there are injuries. It’s a shock to us all.’
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force is not treating the explosion as suspicious.
He added: ‘A large explosion was found to have taken place inside a shop. One man was found injured.
‘Road closures have been put in place and nearby residents have been evacuated.
‘At this early stage, it is believed to be a gas explosion and is not being treated as suspicious.’
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