Belfast Telegraph

Man taken to hospital following suspected gas explosion in east Belfast

By Mark Edwards

A man has been taken to hospital following a suspected gas explosion in east Belfast.

A large amount of emergency services attended the scene after traders in the Ballyhackamore area reported hearing a large explosion at around 4pm.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said it received a call at 3.57pm reporting a gas explosion at a commercial property.

One crew from Whitla station and two from Knock Fire Station were sent to the scene. A specialist Hazardous Material vehicle was also involved in the operation.

Three A&E crews and four ambulances also attended the scene.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service have confirmed that one man has been taken to the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald following assessment and treatment at the scene.

Jason Shankey, who owns a hairdressing salon on the Upper Newtownards Road told the Belfast Telegraph the explosion came from an a new Indian restaurant, understood to be the Clay Oven, that had opened recently across the street from his business.

"I was on my way from my office when it happened," he said.

"My staff told me it was like something from the 80s, it sounded like a car bomb going off. I have spoken to a number of other traders in the area, a good bit away from me, and they said it shook their premises. It was a very loud bang."

Mr Shankey said he understood one person, possibly a chef at the restaurant, had been injured.

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Upper Newtownards Road from Sandown Road junction to Earlswood Road has been cordoned off. Credit: Lisa McMaster

"Following what is believed to have been a possible gas explosion at a property on the Upper Newtownards Road, Ballyhackamore traffic diversions are in place on the Upper Newtownards Road from Sandown Road to Eastleigh Drive," a PSNI spokesperson said.

"The road is expected to be closed for some time.

"A number of neighbouring commercial properties are being evacuated and motorists are asked to avoid the area."

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Retail NI, posted on social media that the explosion occurred at the new Clay Oven restaurant, which had just opened a few days ago.

The area remains closed at this time as the Fire Service assess the integrity of the scene and members of the public are asked to avoid the area.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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