Gas explosion in New Zealand's Christchurch injures several people

Reuters

Posted at Jul 19 2019 08:58 AM

WELLINGTON - New Zealand emergency services evacuated residents near what they said was a suspected gas explosion in the South Island city of Christchurch on Friday that left a house on fire and several people injured.

The city remains on edge 4 months after a lone gunman killed 51 people and wounded dozens in attacks on 2 Christchurch mosques in New Zealand's worst peacetime mass shooting.

There was no indication that Friday's blast had any wider security implications.

"Fire and Emergency New Zealand was called to a house on fire ... at about 10.15 a.m. after reports of a large gas explosion," a spokeswoman for New Zealand's fire service said.

Four fire engines, a specialist command unit and a fire investigator were at the scene, she said.

Police said in a statement initial reports suggested a number of people had been injured in the incident in the residential suburb of Northwood. Media reports said 6 people had been taken to hospital.

A house was on fire and police had closed roads and were carrying out evacuations following what they described as a "serious incident".

A Christchurch hotel worker, who was not identified, told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that a sound like an explosion had shaken nearby buildings.

"It was more than an earthquake, you'd think a bomb had gone off," the newspaper quoted the worker as saying.

Police did not identify the cause of the incident. A Fire and Emergency Services spokeswoman said a fire investigator was at the scene but did not yet have any official information about the cause.