Man critically ill after explosion wrecks flat

A 47-year-old man is critically ill in hospital today after an explosion ripped through his flat.

A 47-year-old man is critically ill in hospital today after an explosion ripped through his flat.

The force of the blast reduced the newsagents and the above flat where the man lived in Chell Heath Road, Stoke-on-Trent, to a pile of rubble.

The victim, who has not been named by police, suffered 50% burns in the explosion, which detectives are treating as suspicious.

The injured man was a tenant who lived above the newsagents, Staffordshire Police said.

A spokeswoman for the force said they were keeping an open mind on the cause but said there had been previous attacks on the property which may have been racially motivated.

It is understood the owner of the newsagents, who lives at a different address, is of Turkish Cypriot origin and has been harassed and had his property damaged in the past.

The spokeswoman added: "There have been a number of incidents which could have been racially motivated at that address.

"As we have yet to establish the cause of the blast it is too early to link them. The explosion could have been caused by a gas leak, we do not know yet."

The injured man was taken to hospital in Stoke before he was transferred to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.

Police are looking for two young men who were seen running in the area shortly before the blast late last night. A spokeswoman stressed they could be innocent witnesses who could supply vital information.

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