Suspected gas explosion in Shrewsbury shocks the Town - see BBC news report..........
Twelve people were hurt, two seriously, when a suspected gas blast destroyed a building in Shrewsbury town centre.
One woman was airlifted to hospital with burns to her head, neck and chest, and a man suffered spinal injuries in the explosion in Bridge Street.
Five people had been trapped in a car under rubble but they were pulled free by bystanders and emergency crews.
It is amazing that no-one was killed.
The building, thought to contain living accommodation and an empty shop, was completely flattened.
A woman in her early 20s believed to be a resident of an upstairs flat was "blown clear of the building", police said. She was airlifted to the burns unit at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.
The man with spinal injuries was found partially trapped in the rubble and was undergoing surgery at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
Five people who had been trapped in the crushed car were said to be "very lucky" and were also taken to hospital. Fire crews are still searching through the rubble but said they were almost certain no-one was trapped.
A fire service spokesman confirmed there had been "quite a significant gas leak" but said this could have been caused by the explosion.
He said: "If this had been prior to Christmas, when the shops and the streets and the pubs were a lot busier, then it could have been a significantly worse incident."
The explosion happened at a property on the corner of Bridge Street and Smithfield Road, near Welsh Bridge, just before 1130 GMT.Jim Grindley, who was working nearby, said: "I ran down, the side building was on fire, loads of people [were] getting dragged out.
"I just ran straight over to the rubble, just saw a hand come out the rubble so I just grabbed them and pulled them out. I got told to move away then. It smelt of gas, it was a horrible sight, horrible sight."
Jane Harrison said she had just driven over the bridge and onto Smithfield Road when the explosion happened.
She said: "It just felt like somebody had hit me. I've never heard a bang like it. The car went sideways, that's how it felt.
"The car behind me was hit by a traffic light and her back window was smashed.
"There was lots of debris all over the road. I saw smoke and flames and there were people there clearing rubble, looking to see if there was anybody in there.
"That traffic light from the car behind could have gone through the windscreen and that could have been me. I feel very lucky indeed."
She said she was shaken by the incident, but the only damage to her car came when glass from elsewhere hit the vehicle.
Christopher Hobbs, who lives about a quarter of a mile from the site, said he saw two casualties.
He said: "We were in the house watching TV this morning. We heard this huge explosion.
"It sounded like the chimney had fallen off our house or something. It felt like the whole building shook.
"The building that used to stand on the corner is nothing but a pile of rubble. There was smoke billowing from the area. They brought two casualties through - one on a wheelchair and one on a stretcher."
Performances were cancelled at the Theatre Severn, which is across the river from the explosion site.
Smail Bachene, manager of the Source Vodka Bar, said he was in bed when he heard the explosion.
He said: "It was a big blast, the noise was unbelievable. I think there was a flat over the shop but I don't know how many people lived there."
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