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Six hurt as gas blast destroys home
A suspected gas explosion has injured six people, including three police officers.
One of the officers suffered serious burns to his face in the blast which ripped the roof and front off the single-storey home.
The six, who also included a paramedic, a gas engineer and the elderly occupant of the house, were treated in hospital after the explosion shortly before 5.30pm on Monday.
Debris from the blast, including glass, roofing materials and the man's curtains, was thrown up for 60ft on to a green in front of the property above the River Tyne in Marian Court, Gateshead.
The Health and Safety Executive was leading an investigation into the explosion, Northumbria Police said.
Superintendent Dave Byrne said: "The house has been completely destroyed. It has been a sizeable force that has caused the damage."
Officers were met with a strong smell of gas when they arrived, he said, after concerns were raised for the safety of the man in the house. The elderly occupant of the house was being led away by a paramedic wearing protective gear when the blast occurred. The paramedic shielded the pensioner from the worst of the blast force, a North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) spokesman said.
Three police officers who had got the man out of the small property were hit by the explosion, as was a gas engineer. All six were taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for treatment.
The NEAS spokesman said: "There were three police officers injured, two of whom have burns to the head and forearms, and one of them has more severe burns to his face and is in a more serious condition. The gas engineer had minor burns."
There was no fault with the local supply leading up to the explosion, Northern Gas Networks said. The firm, which operates the gas emergency service for the north east of England, northern Cumbria and most of Yorkshire, said: "Our engineers isolated the gas supply to the properties affected by the gas explosion in Gateshead earlier this evening and have made the area safe. We can confirm that the explosion was not the result of any issue with the local gas network."