Woman “conscious and talking” after house flattened by massive blast

Rosslyn Avenue, Sunderland
Rosslyn Avenue, Sunderland

A mother has been rescued after a huge explosion destroyed her house, a relative has said.

The woman was at home at the time of the blast in the Ryhope area of Sunderland on Friday morning, her sister wrote in a Facebook post.

The explosion flattened the semi-detached property in Rosslyn Avenue, while the other half of the building was badly damaged, with part of its roof and wall ripped off.

The victim - whose daughter was not at home - was "conscious and talking" as she was taken to hospital, according to the Facebook user.

"There must be a God somewhere, how the hell can anyone survive that explosion," she wrote.

A North East Ambulance Service spokeswoman said one casualty suffering burns had been taken to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary in a serious but stable condition.

Emergency crews raced to the scene at around 8.50am after the blast left debris strewn across the road.

Shocked residents gathered at the edge of the cordon, as the full extent of the damage began to sink in.

Neighbour Tracey Pounder, 51, said: "I heard an almighty bang. I went upstairs and you could see dust rising.

"Half of the semi has gone and next door is wrecked.

"I came down to see what was happening and it is a complete shock."

Sean Hughes, 40, heard the explosion more than a mile away.

He said: "I saw the window move and the house shook."

The cause of the blast is not yet known but Northumbria Police said said there was "nothing to indicate at this time that this is linked to terrorism".

Northern Gas Networks said its engineers were at the site and investigating "as a matter of urgency".

The woman was trapped under rubble and had been in her bathroom when the house collapsed, the emergency services said.

Fire crews arriving at the scene took risks to enter the flattened property and did a "cracking job" assisted by ambulance crews, a senior officer said.

Bill Forster, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The walls of the building have collapsed and the upper sections of the building have come down and the lady was trapped beneath that rubble."

Superintendent Steve Heatley of Northumbria Police, said search specialists have confirmed there are no further casualties trapped.

Debris from the blast was strewn over a wide area.

Roof files were scattered across a footpath and into a cornfield behind the house, and a white PVC back door was blasted over the garden fence.