Residents living in the streets off Hinckley Road in Leicester have told how they rushed to help those caught up in a massive blast, including a boy who was heard crying in the rubble.
Local people said the "enormous" explosion shook properties up to 500 metres away and left many people inside houses in neighbouring streets in a state of shock.
One witness described how a group of men who ran to the scene lifted a girder off an adult casualty and turned to help a boy, who then managed to get to his feet.
Tony Hartley, who lives around 50 yards away from the blast site, told the Press Association: "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.
"I said to him, 'Is there anybody else in there?' and he said, 'My friend's a metre back inside the building' and that's when the emergency services turned up."
Mr Hartley, 33, said the boy, thought to be aged between 10 and 13, was able to walk after being freed.
Local people said the shopkeeper whose building was destroyed had traded there for several years, and recently began to sell eastern European goods.
Lee Blankley, who lives in nearby Minehead Road, said the ambulance and fire service arrived extremely quickly.
Mr Blankley, 59, said: "I was laying in bed just after seven o'clock. I then just heard a massive blast and the bed seemed like it shook and felt like it was going in the air.
"The Mrs came running up the stairs saying, 'What's happened?' Then I had a phone call straight away from a neighbour.
"She was screaming. She had gone into shock.
"I ran down to the top of the street to see if I could help but there were already loads of people there."