Body of man found after house destroyed in blast

Eyewitnesses said the sound of the explosion was so loud it set off car alarms as a building collapsed in King Arthurs Way, Andover, Hampshire

The body of a man has been found after an explosion in Andover where a building collapsed.

One house was completely destroyed and another has suffered serious damage to both floors, according to local reports.

Locals told Andover and Villages the explosion was so loud it set off car alarms.

Shocking pictures of the devastating scene show piles of stones, rubble and debris strewn across the street.

One man living nearby told how it sounded like “a bomb going off,” adding that he, his wife and two children woke up terrified. Another said it sounded like “a huge clap of thunder”.

A number of nearby properties have been evacuated as a precaution and reports say the power has been cut throughout the estate.

The explosion happened at about 2.30am this morning and police and fire crews are investigating after emergency services quickly arrived at the scene.

Hampshire Fire & Rescue released a specially trained dog to find missing people, according to local reports.

The cause of the explosion remains unknown and officials say it is too early to speculate as to what happened.

An eyewitness claimed he’d been told it could have been a gas explosion, but this has not been confirmed.

A friend of the family believed to be directly involved in the incident told the Andover Advertiser reports: “Everyone in the community ran to help.

“It was about the community, protecting the community, helping people.

“All we have at the moment is hope.”

One resident wrote on Facebook: “The state of my house is so bad.” Reports told how people were shouting his name, but luckily he was away with family last night.

Andy Phillips, 44, who lives close to the house which has been completely destroyed, said: “We live about 100 yards away, the sound was like a huge clap of thunder that shook and rattled ours and many other houses, damaging some of them.

“The debris covers about a 25-metre radius.”

He said the property on Launcelot Close was a shared house for people “getting back on their feet after hard times”.

One resident, Liam Johnson, 33, said “I live about quarter of a mile away and there was this terrific explosion.

“It was like a bomb going off and me and my wife and two kids all woke up – we were terrified.

“A few minutes later you could hear sirens and see blue lights flashing as police and fire engines raced past.”

Michael Cutting, who also lives nearby, tweeted: “The bang was that loud I thought someone was trying to get in the house until I went out.”

He added: “My thoughts are with everyone and all the family affected at this sad time.”

Another wrote on Facebook: “Thinking of whoever is involved in this, awful.”

A statement from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Constabulary said: “The body of a man has been found after an explosion in Andover at about 2.30am this morning (December 27).

“The explosion caused a building collapse in King Arthurs Way, Andover.

“Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and its Urban Search and Rescue teams are continuing to search the scene.

“A number of neighbouring properties were evacuated as a precaution.

“Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service worked closely with colleagues from Hampshire Constabulary and South Central Ambulance Service.

“A joint fire and police investigation is under way.”

Dan Brown, a spokesman for gas distribution company SGN, said: “Following reports of an explosion in Launcelot Close, Andover, our engineers joined the emergency services on site in the early hours of the morning.

“We understand an occupant in the property at the time of the explosion has died and our thoughts are with them and their family.

“While it is too early to speculate as to what has happened, we’re working closely with the emergency services to help identify the cause.

“In conjunction with the authorities, we’re currently working to isolate gas supplies to property numbers one and two for safety.

“We’ll remain on site to support the emergency services to help discover the cause of the explosion.”

Kit Malthouse, MP for NW Hants tweeted: “Tragic incident in Andover last night – one body recovered following a gas explosion at 2am on Launcelot Close KAW.

“Deepest condolences. Emergency services continue search and gas board on site. Briefed by leader CllrPhilNorth re events and evacuated residents.”

Housing association Aster Group said: “We’re aware that there has been an explosion at a property in Andover which we understand has resulted tragically in a fatality.

“We’re working closely with the emergency services as they carry out their investigations.

“Our senior team is attending the incident and our neighbourhood teams on the ground are already onsite offering help and support to the residents involved.”