Back to work today, but a lunchtime start. I went for an early walk. Cold police officers, on cordon duty around the scene of yesterday’s explosion, were patiently answering questions and redirecting people. Half of Mardol is without power, a large area around the Welsh Bridge is still sealed off and gas and electricity workers are busy. There’s a lot of rubble to clear before roads can be reopened.
I was at home at the time of the blast yesterday morning, a quarter of a mile from the place that blew up, but the flat shook as if a car had rammed the corner of the building below me. I put my head out of the window, surprised to see nothing untoward. A few minutes later, when I went out for groceries, I found the town gridlocked and emergency vehicles trying to get through. People in the street said it was a gas explosion and that half the Shrewsbury Hotel had collapsed and the police were evacuating the area. Keeping well out of the way, I went into the Riverside Shopping Centre where I found many shops were in the process of closing. My grocery shopping became a quick dash around Wilkinsons, with a chat with the worried staff who were unsure if they too should be closing. They were waiting to hear either from the centre management or the police.
By the time I returned home, there were air ambulances arriving, many more emergency vehicles, and still traffic at a near standstill. I was listening to Radio Shropshire, which did a good job of sorting fact from rumour as the story emerged. Gradually the traffic chaos cleared leaving a very quiet, very shell-shocked town. It is still unnaturally quiet this morning. Traffic is being kept out as much as possible. I will have a half-mile walk to get my bus to work.
The great relief here is that more people were not injured. The corner where the building blew apart is often busy with pedestrians and cars. Especially on a sunny Sunday morning when parents take their children to the park.
A strange start to the New Year.