The Hare Krishna temple in Leicester after an explosion on Friday. Picture by Raju Vyas
London, Sept. 3: A Hare Krishna temple in Leicester was today badly damaged by a blast but a local resident and journalist, Raju Vyas, told The Telegraph: It was not a terrorist attack but a gas explosion.
He said that the presence of helicopters sent by Sky Television and other networks at first gave the impression that Leicester, a city with a large Asian population, predominantly Hindu, had come under terrorist attack.
He believed gas cylinders were stored inside.
This is a temple we use quite a lot there were 30 people trapped inside, Vyas disclosed. Part of the building has been destroyed; the windows and doors are twisted and charred.
Worshippers trapped inside the temple after the explosion have all been accounted for, the fire and rescue service confirmed. A third of the building in Leicester was destroyed by the blast at 2.40pm, the cause of which has not yet been formally established, according to official sources.
Firefighters were at one stage battling the flames and search and rescue dogs were requested to help find anyone in the rubble, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service reported. A spokeswoman said: All persons are accounted for, meaning no-one is trapped inside the rubble.
Dillon Kidger, who works for a roofing company in the same road as the temple, Thoresby Street, said he rushed outside after hearing a large explosion.
It was actually that loud that the building shook, he said. I heard banging noises and people screaming, there was a big fire and the building was gone in about five to 10 minutes. I saw a few people praying outside and people walking round with cuts to their hands and faces from the shrapnel. I dont think there was anybody trapped inside from what I could tell.
He immediately rang the emergency services and three fire engines were soon on the scene. Within minutes there were around 10 ambulances and 10 police cars outside the temple as the security services feared there had been a major incident.
One eyewitness described the shock suffered by those caught up in the incident.
Fatima Khatri told the BBC: Everyone is really worried. Theres a lady crying outside, theres a really injured gentleman and people are really shaken. Its really upsetting to see this happen. Firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to look for worshippers inside the building, which was believed to be unstable.
Worshipper Guaranga Sundara Das told Sky News that a friend at the scene had informed him there was an apparent gas leak and an explosion following it, with windows shattered and glass flying out. An East Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said four people, including a firefighter, were treated at the scene for minor injuries.