he body of a man has been recovered from the scene of a suspected gas explosion in Swansea, police said.
Emergency services were called at just after 11.20am on Monday to a blast at an address on the junction of Clydach Road and Field Close in Morriston.
The man had previously been unaccounted for and his family have now been informed, according to South Wales Police.
Three other people were taken to hospital after the blast, with images from the scene showing one house collapsed and another badly damaged.
The force said other neighbouring properties were also damaged by the explosion, which shook houses miles from the scene and left debris strewn across the surrounding area.
Superintendent Steve Jones said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the man who has lost his life and those affected by this tragic incident. We are doing everything possible to reduce the impact on the wider community and allow access to homes as quickly as possible where it is safe to do so.
“I would like to thank the community for the patience and support during what is a challenging incident.”
Police have asked the public to avoid the area while they deal with the incident.
An investigation will now get under way to establish the cause of the incident and the Health and Safety Executive has been informed, the force said.
Sioned Williams, Member of the Senedd for the South Wales West region, said the missing man had been described locally as “very well liked” and “such a friendly person”.
“He apparently used to sit outside on the step and talk to people in the street. A lot of people knew him and liked him, and are deeply, deeply concerned for him,” the Plaid Cymru politician said.
Residents nearby voiced their fears for those injured or unaccounted for in the aftermath of the blast.
Andy Williams, who has lived on the street for 25 years, became emotional as he spoke about the missing man.
“He’s only lived here for a couple of years but I knew him well,” he said.
“He’s just a nice guy, a lovely guy, he’s always outside chatting. He’s an angel and I just hope to god he’s alright.”
Christopher Yeoman, 55, who said he lives three doors down from the blast, helped rescue a teenage boy and his mother from the rubble.
Mr Yeoman told the PA news agency: “I saw the debris explode outward into the street even before I heard it, then I heard this massive bang.
“The house exploded and everything flew out into the road, hitting the postman who was driving by and the flats opposite.
“Everything shook and all my pictures fell off the wall, and I was first most worried about my 95-year-old mother who was downstairs.
“I ran into the street and we got a teenage boy who was in the debris out, and me and another neighbour ran in because we could hear a woman shouting from inside.
“When we got to her, she was hysterical and worried about her cat and dog but we managed to find the puppy in the crate and get it out as well.
“We got them both to a bus that had stopped to help, because this was before the ambulance and police had turned up.
“They were both hysterical but seemed to calm down once they were together.
“My head is still totally mashed.”
A police officer at the scene would not permit residents to go past the cordon, saying: “We’re still not out of the woods with the gas. We’re not safe from another explosion.”
An emergency centre for residents has been set up in Morriston Memorial Hall, a nearby community centre.
Ioan Humphreys lives eight miles away in Rhos, Pontardawe, and had just started a Microsoft Teams meeting when he heard the bang.
“The house next door to me is having lots of building work done, so initially I thought it was a massive skip being delivered and dropped on their drive – it felt that close,” the 48-year-old Swansea University research officer told PA.
Swansea Council leader councillor Rob Stewart said a major incident was declared at noon, adding: “My thoughts are with the residents at this moment from what looks like an extremely serious incident, as we try and establish if everyone is safe.
“Our teams are on site and working with the emergency services.”
In a statement, Wales & West Utilities, which maintains the gas network across Wales and the south-west of England, said: “We were called to reports of an explosion at a property in the Clydach Road area of Swansea and immediately sent a team of engineers.
“On arrival, we found that there had been severe structural damage to the property and the emergency services were in control of the scene.
“We are now working with them to make the area safe – as we do on all incidents of this nature.
“We do not yet know the cause of the explosion and our engineers will continue to support the emergency services as they carry out their work.”