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Last Updated: Tuesday January 08 2008 16:13 GMT

Girl, nine, dies in house blast

The house where the explosion took place

A nine-year-old girl has died after a gas explosion at a house in Devon in the south west of England.

Stephanie Hammacott was badly hurt when a wall collapsed after the blast at just before 8am on Tuesday.

She was walking past with her mum, who also suffered cuts and bruises. Stephanie was taken to hospital, but sadly died shortly afterwards.

A man walking by was also hurt, as well as two elderly people, who are thought to live in the house.

People think Stephanie was on her way to school with her mother when the wall blew out.

Four fire engines and four ambulances were called to the scene.

Emergency services at the house
Officials are trying to find out what caused the gas explosion

Firefighter Malcolm Carmichael said the house had been almost completely destroyed by the blast.

Mr Carmichael said he thought the explosion had happened inside.

Police said before the blast people had smelt gas in the area.

Neighbours said they heard a dull thud and saw fireballs and flames leaping into the sky.

Rubble was blown up to 15 metres away from the house.

People were evacuated from around 12 buildings nearby, and other residents were told to keep their doors and windows closed.

Officials are now carrying out an investigation to find out what caused the gas explosion.

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