A young child has died and four people have been injured after a suspected gas explosion in Lancashire.
A major incident was declared after the incident rocked terraced houses in Heysham early on Sunday morning, with residents evacuated.
The explosion destroyed two homes and wrecked another, leaving debris littered around the area.
Two of the injured are seriously hurt.
A statement from Lancashire Police said on Sunday morning: ‘We remain at scene of a suspected gas explosion on Mallowdale Ave, Heysham, which has caused two houses to collapse and badly damaged another.
‘Sadly, we can now confirm a young child has died and four other people have been injured, two seriously.
Our thoughts are with all those affected.’
Earlier, Lancashire Fire tweeted that 10 units were called to a row of properties on Mallowdale Avenue at around 2.30am and that firefighters were searching a collapsed property.
The organisation said: ‘A major incident has been declared after we (were) called to terraced houses on Mallowdale Avenue.
It has been reported that there has been an explosion at a property and firefighters are searching the collapsed property.’
Lancashire’s deputy police constable tweeted on Sunday that a young child had died and four people were injured in the incident.
Several residents tweeted that up to three houses had collapsed, and that emergency services sirens had been heard near the scene for a prolonged time.
Dan Knowles, who lives four streets away from the explosion, said he thought there had been an earthquake. ‘
My wife and I thought there was an earthquake which woke us, the whole house shook,’ he explained.
‘We immediately checked on our kids and got back in bed. We then heard sirens and my wife checked Facebook, when we found out that there’d been a gas explosion.
We stayed indoors and switched everything off at the source and then sat up all night worrying.’ Lancashire Police said a safety cordon had been put in place and nearby residents had been evacuated in the town, which lies some 25 miles north-east of Blackpool.
The force said: ‘We are asking people to please avoid the entire area while we deal with this ongoing incident.
The North West Ambulance Service tweeted that it had also sent units to the scene, with a priority to ‘ensure people receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible’.
Electricity North West tweeted that it had paused electricity supplies to the area for safety reasons while the blast was being investigated.