Bishop praises emergency services in wake of Shrewsbury explosion

|PIC1|The Bishop of Shrewsbury has praised the courage of emergency services after a suspected gas explosion in Shrewsbury town centre on Sunday morning.

The blast on the corner of Bridge Street and Smithfield Road injured 12 people and destroyed a block of flats.

A 19-year-old woman was said to be in an “extremely critical” condition in hospital on Monday, according to the BBC, after the force of the blast threw her from the first floor.

One man from the ground floor was hurt after being buried by rubble, while several of the injured had been in a car outside the building when the explosion occurred.

A man and woman were said to be in a “critical but stable” condition at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, according to the Press Association.

Police are investigating the cause of the explosion.

Superintendent Martin Whitelegg, from West Mercia Police, was quoted by PA as saying: "There is no evidence that this was a criminal incident, we are not treating it as a crime at this current time.

"It is being treated as a probable gas leak ... it is believed the explosion was caused by an escape of gas in the vicinity, either in the street or in the building."

The Rt Rev Mark Rylands said he was relieved so few people had been injured.

“My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been hurt as a result of this explosion, especially the young man and women with the most serious injuries,” he said.

The bishop expressed his admiration and gratitude for the “bravery and hard work” of the emergency services who worked throughout Sunday to free victims from the rubble.

“It is all too easy to take our emergency services for granted,” he said.

“Their immediate reaction to the explosion demonstrates just how fortunate we are to be supported by so many dedicated people working for the police, fire and ambulance services.

“We should hold them all in our prayers.”

The bishop urged people in Shrewsbury to show understanding towards the emergency services and council officials amid the disruption to the town centre.