Leicester explosion: Five bodies recovered from remains of building

Fire crews have recovered five bodies from the ruins of a building which was destroyed by an explosion in Leicester.

Relatives of a family who lived in a flat above a shop reduced to rubble by Sunday's "massive" blast said a mother and two of her three sons were missing - with the third being treated in hospital.

A further five casualties were taken to hospital from the scene, including one who remains in a life-threatening condition.

Rescue work to locate any further casualties who may be trapped within "voids" in the collapsed structure was temporarily suspended on Monday amid fears about the safety of emergency crews.

Krishna Rungen, who lives close to the scene of the explosion, said his brother-in-law lived at the address with his wife and three sons.

Mr Rungen said his brother-in-law, who was at work when the property was destroyed, was now at hospital with his youngest son, who was not seriously injured.

Speaking around 20 hours after the blast, Mr Rungen, aged 69, said: "I am still waiting for news from the hospital and from the police."

Matt Cane, Group Manager from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Unfortunately during our operations over the past few hours we have located five bodies within the remains of the building.

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"We are slowly and methodically trying to make the area safe and get into the areas where we could potentially find further casualties.

"It may be some days yet before we will be able to establish the probable cause of the explosion."

Witness Ady Wells, a 23-year-old event manager, was driving home with his girlfriend, Ruby-May Dexter, when the explosion occurred.

Mr Wells said: "I lost control of the wheel because the explosion was so strong, but I was able to swerve left and park up on the side road.

Emergency personnel at the scene (Joe Giddens/PA)
Emergency personnel at the scene (Joe Giddens/PA)

"There was dense black smoke everywhere for about 2-3 minutes. It's only after that lifted that the fire actually started.

"I ran over and picked up a plank from the rubble and saw a man lying there beneath it. It was very traumatic."

Tony Hartley, who lives around 50 yards away from the blast site, said: "I was standing in the kitchen and heard a bang so I ran up the road and could see glass everywhere.

"Me and a friend lifted up a steel girder with about five other blokes and removed a bloke from underneath it.

"We then turned round, saw rubble and heard a little boy crying. There was me and another bloke sifting through the rubble and we managed to pull the boy out."

(Joe Giddens/PA)
(Joe Giddens/PA)

Mr Hartley said the boy, thought to be aged between 10 and 13, was able to walk after being freed.

Superintendent Shane O'Neill, of Leicestershire Police, confirmed that the shop building in Hinckley Road, a major route in the west of the city, had a two-storey flat above it.

The senior officer said: "We believe there may be people who have not yet been accounted for and rescue efforts continue in order to locate any further casualties.

"Although the cause of the explosion is not yet known, there is no evidence that this is linked to terrorism."