(EVENING STANDARD) – People are feared to have died after a suspected gas explosion at a shop in west London, firefighters have said.
The blast happened at a phone shop and barbers on King Street in Ealing at around 6.20am on Wednesday.
Footage on social media shows firefighters climbing into the building to help a person trapped in a flat on the upper floor.
Four adults and one child were pulled from the wreckage. London Fire Brigade said they fear people have been killed but that the number of fatalities was still unknown.
Another 16 residents, including two children, were evacuated from the scene.
Station Commander Alan Brand, who is at the scene, said: “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.”
He added: “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 owner of the mobile phone shop Dr Phone that was destroyed in the blast said he was “shocked” to arrive at the scene.
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 Standard: “It’s an absolute mess.
“I’m not sure what happened, I’m in shock. My landlord is in there now looking he is in shock too. I don’t know if anyone was hurt or who was living upstairs. There is too much I have lost in there.”
He added: “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.
“I’m ok, I’m not hurt. The police have a special dog team and are keeping everyone away.”
A huge cordon has been thrown up around King Street as fire investigators began their investigation into the explosion.
A local business owner said: “There was a huge bang like an explosion. My shop shook. We hear there are injuries… it’s a shock to us all.”
Another said: “We have been told a gas canister exploded. There are police and firefighters everywhere. We are hoping everyone we know there is ok. It’s a very close knit community.”
Around 40 firefighters Southall, Hayes, Heston, Ealing and Feltham fire stations are at the scene.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said they were 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.”