Deadly Oldham blast being treated as suspicious

The scene of an explosion on Buckley Street, Oldham Credit: Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Detectives investigating a massive explosion that killed a child in Oldham yesterday are treating the death as suspicious.

A gas blast tore through three houses in Buckley Street reducing them to rubble.

A man who is not related to the toddler, was airlifted to hospital suffering severe burns.

Emergency services are continuing to search the scene:

Earlier, police has confirmed that another person who was initially unaccounted for after the blast has been found.

Police said they were aware of rumours about a domestic incident last night, and have appealed to the public to come forward if they have any information. Superintendent Neil Evans stressed officers were not called to any domestic disturbance but said:

What I can categorically say is that if that is the case, the police were not called. However, if anyone has any information about this, particularly if they think it might be relevant to what happened today, I would urge them to get in touch.

ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy reports from the scene.

Superintendent Neil Evans from Greater Manchester Police said:

Our thoughts are with the family of this young child who has tragically died. His loved ones are absolutely distraught and we will provide them with whatever support we can at what is clearly a very difficult and upsetting time.

This aerial footage filmed at the scene of the blast shows emergency services searching through the rubble.

Eyewitness Georgina Ullah said she saw one woman being stretchered into an ambulance as well as "another get into an ambulance with a new-born baby, in her pyjamas."

Anthony Brennan, a resident of Buckley Street, where the explosion took place, described the blast.

"Every window came through, all the doors came off, and half the roof. Same with my mate's house - half of his house has totally disappeared," he told ITV News.

'Strong smell of gas'

Sam Gibson, 25, who lives on a road which adjoins Buckley Street, told the Manchester Evening News:

There was a really strong smell of gas all morning and it was getting progressively worse as time went on but obviously you don't expect anything like this to happen.

A spokeswoman for the North West Ambulance Service said another patient had been taken to Wythenshawe Hospital with 80% burns.

Police were called shortly after 11.15am to reports that homes had been seriously damaged.

A phone handset at the bottom of the picture gives an idea of the force of the blast. Credit: Diane Leach