Girl dies after house blast

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The Independent Online

A nine-year-old girl has died in hospital following an explosion at an end terrace house in Plymouth, police said.

Officers said the child died at Derriford Hospital after suffering serious injuries in the blast at Bulteel Gardens, Southway, just before 8am.

Eye witnesses spoke of flames leaping into the air and smoke billowing across the area.

Gas and electrical engineers were called to the scene after reports of a smell of gas in the area before the explosion, said a police spokesman.

Officers said people living on the area were asked to close all their windows as a precaution, and some properties have been evacuated.

Police said they believed the girl was walking past the property when the blast happened.

One eyewitness said he saw passers-by trying to free her from beneath a collapsed wall. Others said the front wall of the house exploded and collapsed on to the youngster as she was passing.

Neighbour Dan Kershaw said: "There was a girl trapped under the rubble of the wall. The woman must have been the mother. She was hysterical.

Loads of people came to dig out the girl from the rubble. I could not look any more because she was in such a bad way. She was all burnt and battered," he told the Plymouth-based Herald newspaper.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust said ambulance crews treated an elderly couple, thought to live at the house, for minor injuries and smoke inhalation. A woman who was with the child when the wall collapsed was also taken to hospital with minor injuries and shock.