Updated: 26/02/18 : 06:23:11
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World :: Four dead as blast destroys UK shop and flat

Four people have died in an explosion at a shop in Leicester, police have confirmed.

Leicestershire Police declared a "major incident" after reports of a blast in Hinckley Road at about 19:00 GMT on Sunday.

Four other people remain in hospital, one with serious injuries, the force said.

Supt Shane O'Neill said police believe there may be more people unaccounted for and rescue efforts were continuing.

A police spokesman said: "At this stage there is no indication this is terrorist related."

Carlisle Street and part of Hinckley Road have been closed and people are being asked to avoid the area. Electricity has been cut off for a number of properties.

Emergency services remain at the scene and Leicestershire Police said the "search and rescue operation" would continue throughout Monday.

Angel Namaala lives opposite the shop and told the BBC she heard "this big thud, like an earthquake".

She said: "The building had gone down and people were trying to help where they could by taking the bricks off. But the fire was getting bigger and bigger so people were told to leave the scene."

She said she and others helped a boy, believed to be aged about 15, who was hurt in the blast.

"He was in there when it happened. I think he was in the flat above the shop. We were keeping him warm and assuring him he'd be OK and the ambulance would be there," she added.

"Someone was with him already bringing him to the road so I stopped and gave him my coat. And other neighbours gave him blankets to cover himself."

Six fire engines were sent to the scene and a fire service spokeswoman said the property was a two-floor building with a loft conversion that had suffered a "pancake collapse".

Leicestershire Police said: "The cause of the explosion will be the subject of a joint investigation by the police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service."

All of the casualties have been taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary and people have been asked not to attend A&E unless "absolutely necessary".

Witnesses said the shop was formerly a Londis but recently became a Polish supermarket.