Kamis, 04 September 2014

Rozelle shop explosion: Search continues for mother and baby, body found in rubble (ABC)

The search continues for a mother and her baby believed to be trapped under the rubble of a convenience store that was destroyed by an explosion yesterday.

Bianka O'Brien, 31, and her 12-month-old son Jude were reported missing after the blast occurred early Thursday morning at Rozelle in Sydney's inner west.

The body of a man was retrieved late last night and is believed to be that of 30-year-old Chris Noble, who was also reported missing after the Darling Street blast ripped through the shop and units.

Search and rescue teams are continuing to comb the rubble brick by brick hours after the blast, which authorities are treating as suspicious.

Ms O'Brien and her son also lived behind the convenience store in a seperate unit to Mr Noble.

Officers have spoken to their relatives but are yet to release any information about them to the public.

"The people who are unaccounted for, we are in contact with their family and we are now speaking to them," Leichhardt area commander Inspector Clive Ainley said.

As police try to determine the cause of the explosion, they were also looking for a silver sedan seen leaving the area at the time of the blast.

"This fire is being treated as suspicious unless something is determined otherwise," Inspector Ainley said.

"We haven't examined the crime scene. We are still in the rescue phase. That's our primary objective.

"We [know about] a silver sedan. I'd be calling on the public with any information to contact Crime Stoppers if you have any information about this car."

We are not giving up hope: rescuers

Authorities are using State Emergency Service (SES) dogs, cameras and listening devices to search the debris.

Superintendent Paul Johnstone said crews worked through the night.

"We're not giving up hope and whilst we are in that situation we'll still be removing brick-by-brick as fast as we can," he said.

"It's just a painstaking experience to make sure everyone is safe, both the unaccounted people and firefighters working on the scene.

"The building has collapsed, both buildings either side are structurally unsound.

"We have monitoring equipment so if these buildings were to move as much as five millimetres — it would alarm and we'd be out."

Two residents living above the shop had jumped from the second storey, while police said the owner of the shop was rescued after he became trapped under a fridge.

He suffered serious head injuries and was transferred to hospital.

Police are yet to speak to him.


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