4 critically injured after reported blast in UK’s Leicester

LONDON — Four people were hospitalized in critical condition following an explosion that left a building in the English city of Leicester in flames Sunday, local emergency agencies said.

Leicestershire Police initially asked the public to stay away from the road where the explosion happened while first responders tended to what was described as a “major incident.”

The department said on its website about three hours later there was no indication the emergency was terror-related.

“The cause of the explosion will be the subject of a joint investigation by the police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service,” police said.

The incident on a crowded street near the Leicester city center with a mix of shops and apartments was being treated as a search-and-rescue operation, the Fire and Rescue Service said. Six fire engines and hazardous material response team were deployed.

Video footage from the scene showed a building that appeared engulfed in towering flames and a number of police cars and ambulances stationed nearby.

The fire service said the building is believed to have collapsed and it’s not known if more people were injured or are trapped in the fire and rubble.

Neighbors near the building were evacuated as a precaution.

Eyewitnesses said there was thick smoke in the area.

Leicester is 177 kilometers (110 miles) north of London.