A gas explosion has destroyed a dance studio that was full of children just an hour before the incident.
While the exact cause of the explosion hasn’t been established, National Grid is investigating the incident that took place in New Ferry, Wirral, at about 9.15pm on Saturday.
No signs of gas leak
“We are checking our local gas mains network and so far there has been no indication of any faults on it,” a National Grid spokesman said.
Engineers had been called out a number of times in the days before the blast, but had found no trace of a gas leak.
The blast injured 34 people – two of whom were seriously injured – and left debris scattered along the street. Locals were evacuated from the surrounding area to a nearby church.
Helen Hudson, who had been in nearby Chinese restaurant Lan’s House with husband Steve and friends, said: “There was a man underneath a table who my husband helped to get out.
“Another woman had a bad injury to her cheekbone. It was so frightening, we thought it was a terrorist attack. There was blood everywhere and dust everywhere.
“We didn’t know if there would be another explosion so we thought we had to get out and we climbed through the front of the restaurant. The men were all helping the women get out and there were women with prams trying to get babies out. I can’t believe we walked away alive.”
Shops and homes destroyed
Leanne Stewart, who lives near the site of the explosion, said: “I think the front of the house is all gone now, I didn’t look when I ran in to get the kids and we don’t know when we’ll be allowed back.”
Chairman of New Ferry Residents’ Association Mark Craig said a row of four shops with a dance studio above had collapsed.
The two seriously injured people are being cared for at Aintree Hospital.
Roads surrounding the blast site remained closed over the weekend as emergency services, who said some people may not be able to return home for a number of days, continued to work at the scene.
Hundreds of pounds have already been donated by well-wishers to help repair the destroyed dance studio, called Complete Works.
The sound of the huge blast was caught on dashcam footage by a personal carer as he drove past.
Adam Dingwall, 36, told the Press Association: “Because I’m a first aider I drove over there while my wife phoned 999. When we pulled up we could see that the building was destroyed and someone was lying in the street.”
Date Published: March 28, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown