A woman whose house exploded only survived the gas blast because a fridge fell on top of her.
Susan Shepherd is thought to have escaped injury despite the blast in Ryhope, Sunderland, being so strong that it sent roof tiles flying and shot the back door 20 metres down the garden.
She was found in a pile of rubble by emergency services following the explosion at about 8.50am on Friday, in which she suffered burn injuries.
Writing on Facebook, her sister Tracy Judson said: ‘The fridge fell on top of her and saved her life, she’s absolutely fine under the circumstances, she’s got minor burns to her back, face and arms and her hip might need stitching.’
Shocking images taken after the incident showed the extent of the damage, with one semi-detached house wrecked and half of the property next door flattened.
Ms Judson added that Ms Shepherd was able to talk in the ambulance as she was being taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where she was treated.
In an earlier post, she said that God must exist as ‘how the hell can anyone survive that explosion’.
Rosslyn Avenue was flooded with emergency services along with search specialists and gas engineers in response to the dramatic incident.
Ms Shepherd is believed to be the only person hurt, despite the massive damage to the two homes.
Neighbour Tracey Pounder said: ‘I heard an almighty bang. I went upstairs and you could see dust rising.
‘Half of the semi has gone and next door is wrecked. I came down to see what was happening and it is a complete shock.’
Another neighbour claimed he heard the explosion from more than a mile away.
Northumbria Police said the blast was caused by a gas explosion.