A man thought to be missing in the debris of a gas explosion was found safely after several homes were destroyed in Oldham.
A young child died and emergency crews have stopped their search for the missing man after he was not buried in the damage.
The youngster’s home was destroyed after the blast flattened four homes on Buckley street shortly before 11.15am today and just 30 minutes before a gas leak was reported to the National Grid.
Police, fire and ambulance services are at the scene conintuing their search and one man was flown by air ambulance to Wythenshawe hospital with 80% burns.
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 schools Crompton House and 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."