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Mother and two sons among Leicester explosion victims

One other person is still in critical condition in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police have named five victims of the explosion in Leicester, including a mother and her two teenage sons.

Leicestershire Police said Mary Rajoobeer, 46, Shane, 18, and 17-year-old Sean, were still officially “missing”, as formal identifications have yet to take place.

The family lived in a flat above a store on the busy Hinckley Road, which was demolished in a huge blast on Sunday night.

Leah Beth Reek, 18, who was Shane’s girlfriend, was also listed among the missing, as was 22-year-old Viktorija Ljevleva, who is thought to have been working in the supermarket at the time of the explosion.

In a statement, Leicestershire Police said: “Human remains relating to five people have been recovered from the wreckage but given the devastation caused by the blast and subsequent fire, it may be some considerable time before the bodies can be formally identified.

“The relatives of all five missing people have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers at this desperate time.”

One of five other injured people taken to hospital following the blast also remains in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, the force added.

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Emergency services at the scene on Hinckley Road (Aaron Chown/PA)

Work is continuing at the scene in what is still an emergency services “rescue operation” and an investigation into the cause is ongoing.

Throughout the morning, specialist contractors have been removing rubble from around the site, with Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, police and paramedic teams coming and going at the scene.

The emergency services have warned that on-going work and the weather conditions, with heavy snow forecast for later, means the A47 road will remain closed in both directions for some time yet.

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The blast and subsequent fire destroyed a shop (Joe Giddens/PA)

Witness Ady Wells, a 23-year-old event manager, was driving home with his girlfriend Ruby-May Dexter when the explosion occurred.

Mr Wells said: “I lost control of the wheel because the explosion was so strong, but I was able to swerve left and park up on the side road.

“There was dense black smoke everywhere for about two to three minutes. It’s only after that lifted that the fire actually started.

“I ran over and picked up a plank from the rubble and saw a man lying there beneath it. It was very traumatic.”

Tony Hartley, who lives around 50 yards away from the blast site, said: “I was standing in the kitchen and heard a bang so I ran up the road and could see glass everywhere.

“Me and a friend lifted up a steel girder with about five other blokes and removed a bloke from underneath it.

“We then turned round, saw rubble and heard a little boy crying. There was me and another bloke sifting through the rubble and we managed to pull the boy out.”

Mr Hartley said the boy, thought to be aged between 10 and 13, was able to walk after being freed.

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