Nine hurt as British gas explosion flattens homes: medics

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Nine people including children were injured Tuesday after a gas explosion ripped through a row of houses in northwest England, the ambulance service said.

Several homes collapsed following the blast shortly after 0700 GMT in Irlam, a town outside Manchester, witnesses and firefighters said.

"There's nothing left of them. There is debris everywhere, all over the place. Four houses completely flattened," said resident William Billinge, 65.

An ambulance service spokesman said one woman in her 70s was in a critical condition after being rushed to hospital with 30 percent burns.

Two adults and three children were also taken to hospital with minor injuries and three people were treated at the scene, two after being hit by flying glass and the third for injuries sustained when his ceiling collapsed.

"The only serious injury is the elderly lady and we have no information about people possibly unaccounted for," said the spokesman.

People evacuated from their homes were given shelter in a nearby school, and a number of roads were closed.

© 2010 AFP

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