Two people are believed to have died after a building collapsed in a massive explosion in London.
Four adults and a child were rescued and 16 others evacuated following a suspected gas explosion in Ealing, West London, but crews earlier said “we believe that there are fatalities within the property”.
It has since been confirmed that two people have died with fire crews recovering the bodies from the wreckage in King Street, in the Southall part of the borough of Ealing.
The genders and ages of the two people who died have not yet been released by the London Fire Brigade.
The explosion reportedly occurred inside a phone shop, Dr Phone, which has flats above and firefighters said it was a “painstaking and protracted incident”.
Rescuers with search dogs were desperately searching for bodies in the wreckage. A spokesman said the windows of the shop were “completely blown out” in the incident.
Station Commander Paul Morgan said: “Our crews have search the property using specialist equipment including the use of a USAR dogs.
“We can confirm that sadly two people have died at the scene.
“It has been a painstaking and protracted incident with firefighters working systematically to stabilise the building and search for people involved.
“Operations have been concluded for the evening and will restart in the morning.
“The explosion caused substantial damage to the shop and structural damage throughout.
“In the initial stages firefighters rescued four adults and one child were rescued at the rear of the property using a ladder.
“A further fourteen adults and two children self evacuated from surrounding properties.”
More properties could yet be evacuated, Ealing Council said.
Shop owner Jatinder Singh, 36, said he received a phone call from a neighbour to tell him his mobile phone shop had been totally destroyed.
He told the Evening Standard: “It’s an absolute mess.”
Station Commander Alan Brand, who is at the scene, said this morning: “Four adults and one child were rescued at the rear of the property by firefighters using a ladder.
“A further fourteen adults and two children self evacuated from surrounding properties. Specialist crews are searching the building for anyone else that may be involved.”
London Fire Brigade was called at 6.38am. Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters from Southall, Hayes, Heston, Ealing and Feltham fire stations were at the scene.
Gliveera-Singh Purewall, 29, was asleep some 50 metres away when the blast went off.
Speaking to MyLondon, the builder said: “There was a huge blast that shook the room and the whole building. I work behind the shops and the whole buildings were shaking.
“Everyone woke up and came out of their homes. Mostly people did not know what happened and just listened to the blast.
“About 15 to 20 minutes later people went home and I stayed out on the street.”
Mr Purewall has been stood at the end of King Street for eight hours with other residents who cannot return home.
Last night he was sleeping at the end of King Street, on site on a building he is working on.
His home is at the other end of King Street, on Featherstone Road. He has not yet returned home since the blast.
He added: “The whole room shook properly, stuff fell everywhere. Glasses, bottles of coke. Everything.
“Mostly this area is full of Sikh people so we were all up already. No one knows what happened as the road is closed.”
Mr Purewall lives on his own in the area. His family live in Punjab.
Mohammad Rafiq, 78, said he and his 76-year-old wife felt “shocked” and “scared” when the noise from the King Street blast woke them at their home.
“I heard it in the morning – it woke me up, it was scary,” Mr Rafiq said, who lives two streets away.
“It sounded like a very dangerous blast so I was scared.
“We didn’t sleep after that.”
Footage from the scene earlier this morning shows a huge emergency response, with many saying the shop and some of the property above has been completely destroyed.
King Street is expected to be closed until tomorrow due to the ongoing searches in the building.
Ealing Council said: “Due to a suspected gas explosion on King Street in Ealing, nearby properties have had electricity and gas switched off.
“There may be a potential need for a further evacuation of nearby properties.
“Please avoid travelling to the area if possible.”
In a video posted on the Southall Green Police Twitter account, officers have urged members of the public to avoid King Street for the rest of today.
The officer recording the video says: “Dear residents, business owners and the community of Southall.
“Please, please avoid King Street this morning and for the rest of the day due to a local incident.
“Thank you very much.”