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Child killed in massive house blast
Damaged housed at the scene of a suspected gas explosion in the Shaw area of Oldham (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service/PA)
A child has been killed and a man left gravely ill after a massive explosion ripped through three houses.
The child died after the blast in Shaw, Oldham, and the man, named locally as Anthony Williamson, was airlifted to hospital suffering 80% burns.
Dean Nankivell, station manager at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said although the operation at the scene was still being treated as a search and rescue mission, everyone had been accounted for and no one had been found trapped in the rubble as first thought.
Mr Nankivell said there was one known death, a young boy as yet unnamed, and the injured man rescued by firemen suffered serious burns.
Special equipment and sniffer dogs had scoured the rubble to ensure no one else was trapped.
He said: "The scene down there is catastrophic. Its just a great big pile of bricks.
"Whatever has caused this has gone with some force. Gas is definitely a strong contender. This is looking like a gas explosion.
"Everybody has been accounted for, we are treating it as a search and rescue but leading on to the next phase."
Mr Nankivell said there were still unstable structures damaged in the blast and the job was to shore up the scene to make it safe enough for fire and police investigators to go in and begin their work.
Gas supplies were turned off to homes in surrounding streets and the emergency operation will gradually be scaled back, he added.