Oldham Shaw Explosion: One Child Dead And Man Severely Burnt After Major Blast (PICTURES)

Child Dead After Explosion In Oldham

Detectives investigating a massive explosion that killed a child in Oldham are treating the death as suspicious, Greater Manchester Police said.

Two-year-old Jamie Heaton died after what was believed to be a gas blast tore through three houses in Buckley Street reducing them to rubble.

Anthony Partington, who is not related to the toddler, was airlifted to hospital suffering severe burns.

Police said they were aware of rumours about a domestic incident and appealed for information.

Superintendent Neil Evans stressed officers were not called but said: "We are also aware of some rumours within the local community about a potential domestic disturbance in the area last night.

"What I can categorically say is that if that is the case, the police were not called.

"However, if anyone has any information about this, particularly if they think it might be relevant to what happened today, I would urge them to get in touch."

The officer said of the dead child's family: "His loved ones are absolutely distraught and we will provide them with whatever support we can at what is clearly a very difficult and upsetting time.

"This incident has shocked the community of Shaw and I want to reassure them that all emergency services are committed to helping those whose homes are damaged in whatever way we can and to get all others who have been evacuated back home as soon as possible."

Local sources said Mr Partington, 27, was originally from Rochdale. They said he was a qualified joiner but had recently been made redundant.

Emergency workers pulled a third person trapped out of the wreckage late on Tuesday afternoon following a search and rescue operation, while the fire service said another individual unaccounted for had been found safe and well.

The scene was described as looking like a war zone by residents

Mr Partington was initially described as suffering 80% burns but later the North West Ambulance Service reduced the severity to between 25% and 30%.

Dean Nankivell, station manager at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said although the operation at the scene was still being treated as a search and rescue mission, everyone had been accounted for and no one had been found trapped in the rubble as first thought.

Special equipment and sniffer dogs had scoured the rubble to ensure no one else was trapped.

He said: "The scene down there is catastrophic. Its just a great big pile of bricks. Whatever has caused this has gone with some force.

"This is looking like a gas explosion."

Alex Perkins, who lives on Duchess Street, told the BBC: "It's like a war zone - tiles that have blown off literally across the streets, there's just debris everywhere. It's mad.

"It's just empty, there's nothing there, just bricks on the floor, just rubble."

One child died in the apparent gas explosion

Mr Nankivell said there were still unstable structures damaged in the blast and the job was to shore up the scene to make it safe enough for fire and police investigators to go in and begin their work.

Gas supplies were turned off to homes in surrounding streets and the emergency operation will gradually be scaled back, he added.

Local authority building control officers will have to be brought in to look at the structural damage to surrounding properties.

It is possible to see that one house has completely collapsed

Streets around the explosion scene were closed off as a search and rescue operation took place

A man living half a mile from the site of explosion told the BBC he felt his house shake and his first reaction was that "something had fallen over."

However he said a number of houses in the are had had their windows shattered, and it was soon clear that there had been "some sort of explosion".

A journalist speaking to residents of Shaw, Oldham said they had noticed a strong smell of gas throughout the morning.

One girl @amberrlaurenx has been tweeting pictures of the destruction on Twitter. She said she has has seen about three air ambulances and that the explosion "felt like an earthquake."

Greater Manchester Fire Service said more than 30 firefighters were at the scene carrying out a search of the immediate area.

Those involved included specialist search and rescue teams, with a dog, and colleagues from Lancashire Fire Service.

National Grid said it had received a report of a smell of gas in the Edmund Street and Buckley Street area before the blast happened.

The company said it was testing the gas mains and pipes serving homes in Buckley Street and engineers hope to resume tests on Wednesday morning under the direction of GMP who are treating the site as a crime scene, National Grid said.

Engineers have not been able to enter the five most badly damaged houses and it was not possible to confirm what caused the explosion.

Gas and electricity supplies to the immediate area were disconnected.

Updated: 19:00, 26 June 2012 (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service information)

Updated: 20:16, 26 June 2012 (burns severity)

Updated: 20:45, 26 Junes 2012 (Police suspicious death information)

Updated: 21:51, 26 JUne 2012 (National Grid comments)


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