Owner of Belfast restaurant wrecked in gas blast praises local support
An east Belfast businessman has thanked the local community for their support in the aftermath of a gas explosion at his Indian restaurant.
The Clay Oven in Ballyhackamore was wrecked in the blast at around 4pm on Wednesday, just two days after opening. Damage was also caused to a hair salon next door.
One man, a 32-year-old chef at the restaurant, sustained burn injuries and was taken to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.
His injuries are not life-threatening.
A country-bound section of the Upper Newtownards Road, from the Sandown Road junction to Earlswood Road, will remain closed for several days as a result of the blast, and traffic is being diverted.
Seven staff are employed at the restaurant, which is closed for the foreseeable future.
Assessment of the site is ongoing but it's believed the damage is so bad that the building may have to be demolished.
In a statement on their Facebook page, management said: "As per precautionary measures, the restaurant is now closed until further notice. We apologise for the inconvenience caused."
Many local business owners have taken to social media pledging their support to the owner and hoping that he will be able to reopen as soon as possible. Among them was Keith Shaw from the nearby Kirks Home Bakery.
He said: "Everyone is very sorry that this awful explosion took place and we hope the person who was hurt will make a full recovery very soon.
"The people who own the business have been working on the place for over a year, and for their business to be destroyed within a few days of opening is a huge shock.
"There is a lot of sympathy for them and we hope they will be able to get back on their feet soon, although the structure of the building remains the big concern."
One local woman posted on the restaurant's Facebook page: "I know the whole community will get behind you and support you through this terrible time."
Another added: "Wishing you the best of luck to get repaired and back open quickly.
"Also best wishes for a speedy recovery to the person who was injured."
In response, the restaurant owner said: "Thanks a million for all the kind words. We are so grateful to have a community like this.
"We are still staying strong and looking forward to reopen to serve our lovely customers."