Birmingham gas explosion: Demolition work begins following fatal blast

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Here’s the latest update on the gas explosion in Kingstanding on Wednesday (June 29)

Demolition work has begun today (Wednesday, 29 June) at the site of the Kingstanding house explosion on Dulwich Road.

The West Midlands Fire Service confirmed that the work is unlikely to be completed today, and it’s currently uncertain how many properties will be affected by the demolition.

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One property was reduced to rubble in the blast, while the homes either side were left shattered with windows and doors blown out.

Eight homes are uninhabitable: either too badly damaged or without gas.

Neighbours Natasha and Giorgi Khizanishvili said houses six doors up had been left with “cracks in the ceiling” and around windows.

The fire service also said on Wednesday that investigations to establish the precise cause of the blast could still take a ‘number of days’.

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Demolition got underway today (Wednesday, 29 June)Demolition got underway today (Wednesday, 29 June)
Demolition got underway today (Wednesday, 29 June) | West Midlands Fire Service

What has West Midlands Fire Service said about the demolition work?

A spokesman from the West Midlands Fire Service, said: “Demolition work is beginning today and will be continually assessed at the scene to manage expectations.

“This is a complex scene, and the demolition is unlikely to be completed today.”

A statement from the service, read: “We, with our partners and demolition workers, will remain on site for some time to safely continue our work. Investigations to establish the precise cause could take a number of days.

Our thoughts remain with the family of the deceased, the man taken to hospital and the families in the Kingstanding community whose lives have been permanently changed. We thank them for their patience and understanding in what is an extremely difficult time, as well as the efforts of our partner agencies in what remains a difficult incident.

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West Midlands Police also confirmed that the injured man remained in a critical but stable condition in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Wednesday (29 June). He was dug out of the burning rubble of the home in Dulwich Road by about a dozen members of the public,

A woman was found dead after a house was destroyed in a gas explosionA woman was found dead after a house was destroyed in a gas explosion
A woman was found dead after a house was destroyed in a gas explosion | PA

Are there any updates on the lady who died in the explosion?

The woman who died in the gas explosion has been named locally as 79-year-old grandmother Doreen Rees-Bibb.

In a post on Facebook, daughter Karen Bibb, said: “We are so devastated that me and my sister have lost our mother Doreen Mace in a fire, it’s the most terrible way to die. Miss mom so much we do.”

Has anyone else suffered injuries?

A family who were driving past in a Mercedes car just as the home exploded escaped without injury. The damaged remains of the white saloon – its airbags deployed, body panels pock-marked and windows smashed – was left parked a few yards away.

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Is there any update on what caused the blast?

Cadent Gas confirmed yesterday (28 June) that mains and service pipes in the area did not the cause the explosion.

Elliott Nelson, Network Director for the West Midlands said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those impacted and everyone in this close-knit community.

“Since the incident, our engineers have been on site working with the emergency services. It has been difficult for everyone, and I know all the responders are grateful for the support the community has shown. We are aware of some selfless acts of courage and heroism by members of the local community who were first on the scene, which will not be forgotten.

“Following a thorough investigation, we can confirm that the gas mains and service pipes in the area are sound and were not the cause of the incident in Kingstanding. The matter now lies with other agencies for further investigation.

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“We would also like to remind people that if you ever smell gas, inside the home or outside, call the national gas emergency service on 0800 111 999* immediately, day or night. Our team is available 24/7, 365 days-a-year to respond to emergencies quickly.”

Fire service praise the public

Martin Ward-White, area commander for West Midlands Fire Service, also praised the public for their heroic efforts in helping to rescue the man from the explosion.

He told the BBC: “When fire crews turned up, police and members of the public had already started to mount a rescue of the individual.”

“The community has been great not just in the aftermath but overnight as well in supporting us.”

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An investigation into what caused the blast is being carried out by West Midlands Police, the West Midlands Fire Service and gas specialists National Grid.

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