Four people have died and four others injured following an explosion that has left a building in the English city of Leicester in flames, police have confirmed.
Leicestershire Police initially asked the public to stay away from the street in Leicester where the explosion took place in the west of the city on Sunday night. Later on police described it as a “major incident.”
Police said one among the four injured was in critical condition, and that there may be more people unaccounted for and rescue efforts were continuing.
“There are four confirmed fatalities at this stage and a number of people still undergoing treatment in hospital,” said Supt Shane O’Neill. “The building consisted of a shop premises on the ground level and a two-story flat above it. We believe there may be people who have not yet been accounted for and rescue efforts continue in order to locate any further casualties.
“Once the site is deemed to be safe a joint investigation with Leicestershire fire and rescue service will begin looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident, which at this stage is not being linked to terrorism.”
Video footages showed flames billowing into the night sky as the fire engulfed the building of convenience store. One video showed emergency services rushing to help people close to flames.
Eyewitnesses said there was thick smoke in the area. One neighbor told the Guardian: “There was a huge bang and the whole house shook. If there had been no bang, I would have thought it was an earthquake. I couldn’t believe it.”
“It looks like the fire is burning under control but there’s still a lot of smoke. The shop would have still been open so it’s awful. I will be really surprised if anyone has come out of it alive and people could have also been hurt at the bus stop,’ he added.
“We checked on our children first and foremost and then we went outside.”
The Leicestershire police department said hours after the incident there was no indication the explosion was an act of terrorism, and advised the news media not to speculate about the cause.
“The cause of the explosion will be the subject of a joint investigation by the police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service,” the police department said.