Hundreds of Oldham families are being evacuated from their homes after a huge gas explosion destroyed several homes in Shaw.
A young child died, one man is still trapped in a home and another man was taken to hospital with 80% burns after the blast on Buckley street shortly before 11.15am today.
A search and rescue operation is in place to avoid further fatalities and Oldham Councillors have spoken of the tragic incident.
Jean Stretton, Cabinet member for Oldham Council, said: “It’s absolutetly tragic. A huge cordon is in place as search and rescue crews continue to search for the missing person.
“It’s a sad day when a child dies and hundreds of people are being evacuated from nearby homes.”
Secondary school Royton and Crompton is being established as a rescue centre for evacuees.
Mark Alcock, Councillor for Shaw, said: “It’s utter carnage at the scene. The emergency services are absolutely fantastic but obviously the focus is to ensure there are no more fatalities.
“We are trying to get families safely evacuated and we’re working with services across the North West to find the missing person.”
Firefighters are unable to confirm if the incident was caused by a gas explosion but Councillor Alcock said it was caused by a leak.
Greater Manchester Fire Service said more than 30 firefighters were at the scene carrying out a search of the immediate area.
Those involved included specialist search and rescue teams, with a dog, and colleagues from Lancashire Fire Service.
One house at the end of the road has been flattened.
One nearby resident said: "There had been work carried out on the house six weeks earlier and I've been told it was a gas leak."