salfordTNReports were received November 2, at 0709, of a gas explosion involving a row of houses on Merlin Road, Irlam in Salford. Eight fire crews and a USAR team arrived to search the properties. Five adults and six children have been taken to hospital with serious injuries. A 76-year old woman who was close to the gas explosion was admitted to hospital with 30 per cent burns.   

 The incident has been confirmed as a gas explosion, and a 600 metre exclusion zone has been instigated, which involves 200 houses. The National Grid is working to isolate the gas supply. The same sniffer dog called Echo, who was used in the aftermath of Haiti was used to search the rubble in Irlam for trapped victims - but no one is reported missing.

Geoff Ackroyd, Greater Manchester Fire And Rescue Servic, said: "When the firefighters arrived it was utter chaos. There was quite a demolished building, people running everywhere."

A house in the centre of the blast was undergoing refurbishment, City West Housing Trust, responsible for the property is carrying out investigations. AlthoughPaul Etches, a station commander from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue, said it was too early to say what caused the explosion.

In a statement, Salford City Council said: "A number of properties in the Irlam area of Salford have been badly damaged following a gas explosion this morning. A rest centre for residents who have been evacuated from nearby properties has been set up at Fit City Cadishead, Lords Street. People wishing to go to the centre should make their way to Moorfield Primary School playground where transport is being arranged. Fiddlers Lane Community Primary School will be closed today. The school hall will be open to affected residents and food and drink will be provided."