Woman found dead after house blast in Birmingham

·4 min read

A woman has been found dead after a gas explosion at a house in Birmingham, as police praised the “heroic” actions of neighbours who pulled a man alive from the burning rubble.

He remains in hospital in a critical condition after the blast at about 8.40pm on Sunday, which destroyed one house and significantly damaged three others.

West Midlands ambulance service confirmed on Monday that the body of a woman had been discovered in the remains of the destroyed house on Dulwich Road in Kingstanding, north Birmingham.

“There was nothing that could be done and the person was confirmed dead at the scene,” a spokesperson said.

Neighbours reportedly climbed over burning debris to help a man who was in the property at the time of the blast, and carried him to safety on a mattress that had been blown out the window of a neighbouring house.

“There were some really heroic actions from members of the community last night,” said Ch Insp Kelly Monaghan from West Midlands police. “We know they tried to drag the male in there out of the rubble and establish how many people were there.”

Related: At least 12 people died in domestic gas explosions in Britain since 2017

Lami Charlery lives in the house next door with his partner and her two children, although he was the only one home at the time.

“As soon as I went in the bathroom and shut the door, that’s when the house blew up. I fell back and then I opened the door and saw the ceiling coming down. It missed me by an inch,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to think, I just tried to run out. There was glass everywhere so I had to run back and get my trainers. Then we heard the guy next door screaming for help so we tried to help.”

He said a large group of about 15 people tried to help the man out, and also tried to rescue a woman who was known to be in the property, but were unable to reach her.

“We tried to move the bricks to get in but people were saying the house might collapse,” he said. “There were about 10-15 people there – five of us ran out because we thought it was going to blow up. Luckily, those 10 guys stayed there and managed to get him out.”

His home was half destroyed by the explosion and he said he had “nothing but the clothes on my back” left.

“We have got no house at all now. You just don’t expect that, to suddenly have no house,” he said.

He is staying at the nearby Kingstanding Inn, which has offered its rooms to families affected by the explosion and has had a stream of people drop off donations including food.

“All the families vacated the street and stopped with us overnight,” said the manager, Kathleen Queen. “We had children here last night and to look at their faces and think about how they have lost everything, all their toys. It’s absolutely horrific.

“There was a gentleman here who lived next door to the house. He had just come home from work and was about to put his dinner in the oven, and he said he watched the oven come towards him,” said the assistant manager, Linda Moore.

“He ran out the house and then wanted to go back in to get his phone but everyone outside was shouting for him to come back out and I think the house was falling down around him. He was really shocked but said someone must have been watching over him.”

She said everyone was feeling “shock, devastation and loss” but heartened at the way the community had come together.

“People were putting their own lives at risk to save someone else. I have lived here all my life but this has shown me people do come together when it’s needed,” she said.

Rick Payne, a councillor for Kingstanding, said the explosion had caused a huge amount of damage and that families would be unable to return home for a considerable time.

“Somebody losing their life in any circumstances is dreadful but this is obviously a very shocking and full on event,” he said. “I know there was some real community spirit and some local residents were able to extract a severely injured man from the property but were just unable to get the woman.

“I think it was made clear at the time that somebody else was missing. It is absolutely devastating that she has died, for the family but also for the whole community.”

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