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Man pulled from rubble after blast

A house has collapsed following an explosion in the early hours of Monday.

Police and firefighters were called to a house, divided into three flats, in Wellesley Road, Clacton, Essex, at about 2.30am following a suspected gas explosion.

A family of four was rescued from the roof of the building and firefighters saved a woman and a man from inside. The man was trapped under rubble.

About 60 people were evacuated from homes. An adjoining property is also believed to be unstable. It is thought that all residents have been accounted for by the Urban Search and Rescue Team.

Assistant Divisional Officer Martyn Hare said: "We believe there has been a gas explosion which has caused substantial collapse in a house which has been converted into flats. Firefighting operations are continuing at the scene. The road has been closed and neighbouring properties have been evacuated."

His colleague Neil Holloway added: "When crews arrived they were faced with a house which had almost totally collapsed. Four people had been led to safety and a woman was quickly rescued from the rear of the building.

"Crews have been withdrawn from the rubble as firefighting operations continue. The fire is under the rubble and is proving hard to get to so I expect firefighting operations will continue for several hours."

Rescue dog Kirby, who qualified only last Thursday, found the man trapped under the rubble. His handler Graham Currie said: "It took him less than a minute to locate the man in the rubble and we were able to speak to him to confirm his location. Then it was a matter of removing the rubble to rescue him. The man was conscious when we rescued him."

Gary Sanderson, spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service, said all six people were treated for injuries. One woman suffered serious burns.

He said: "Four other casualties, three woman and a man were all taken to Colchester Hospital suffering the effects of smoke inhalation."

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