20/09/2015 08:44 BST | Updated 20/09/2015 10:59 BST

Derbyshire Gas Explosion: Rescuers Find Two Bodies Believed To Be Husband And Wife, Police Say

Police have confirmed that two people have died in a house explosion earlier on Sunday, after a prolonged rescue effort was hampered by damage caused to the building.

Fire crews were called to a street in Riddings, near Alfreton, shortly after 7.30am but have been prevented from searching a house devastated by the explosion because it is structurally unsafe.

Firefighters were earlier told they would have to wait for structural engineers to assess the damaged building before it would be safe to enter, the BBC reported.

It is now known that two occupants of the house -- believed to be a husband and wife -- were found by firefighters once the building was made safe.

A Derby Police spokesperson told media at the scene: "The fire service attended and found the house ablaze. They extinguished the flames and then found the house was not safe enough to enter. They were able to make the house safe enough to enter, and I can confirm they have found two bodies in the property.

"They are believed to be a husband and wife who lived in the property but we have not been able to identify them at this time. We have a difficult job ahead of us and while we're doing that we're thinking of the families."

Previously, a spokesperson for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue had said it was too early to tell if there had been casualties as a result of the blast.

Several fire appliances and an aerial platform are being used to fight a fire, and East Midlands Ambulance Service have sent their Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) to the scene.

Neighbours described hearing "a loud bang" and say they saw a plume of smoke rising from the house shortly before the emergency services were called, the Mail Online reported.

A woman living on Chestnut Avenue, leading off Valley View Road, told the website: "There was an explosion and we know that there has been a house burnt to the ground. We have heard a lot of fire engines and sirens go past."

Another resident living on Oakland Crescent, near Valley View Road, said: "There were definitely people inside.

"I know the person. I don't want to talk about it."

Mark Robins, 32, who lives nearby, told the Derby Telegraph: "When you are lying in bed, you don't know what is going on but it sounded like a loud bang, followed by a noise that sounded like rubble going down into a skip."

Another resident told the newspaper: "Around 7.30am, there was a noise that was like a 'woof', followed by a second one and I looked out of the bedroom window and could see a large plume of smoke rising.

"We went into another bedroom and we could see the flames between the houses and we could see them licking round what had to be the outside of the house."