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Riddle of blast from past

PUBLISHED: 03:27 19 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:13 03 March 2010

A YEAR after a massive explosion ripped through Ipswich town centre, the cause of the gas blast is still a mystery.

In January last year, the QS store was the scene of a huge gas explosion as the town was rocked by a huge booming sound which sent glass and debris flying in to the busy road.

A YEAR after a massive explosion ripped through Ipswich town centre, the cause of the gas blast is still a mystery.

In January last year, the QS store was the scene of a huge gas explosion as the town was rocked by a huge booming sound which sent glass and debris flying in to the busy road.

Today the true cause of the mains failure which led to the explosion at the QS store on the junction of Crown Street and St Matthew's Street is still unknown.

A full investigation by the Health and Safety Executive was carried out.

It was a miracle that everyone escaped without serious injuries and just three people were taken to hospital.

Two shop workers suffered shock and the other, a gas engineer, suffered singed hair and eyebrows.

The engineer recovered at home and is now fighting fit and back at work.

At the time Transco confirmed that there was a fault with one of the pipes outside the shop but did not know exactly what had caused the explosion.

Today a spokesman for Transco the gas pipeline operators said it is still one of the biggest incidents they have had to deal with for many years in the area.

Jeff Evans said: "There was a gas escape due to the failure of a 12 inch diameter cast iron main in the high way outside the shop.

"What caused this failure still remains unknown. We replaced the section of main with new plastic pipes.

"We keep a close eye on all the mains and run a points system to see when they need replacing. This main was not up for replacement.

"It was a major incident and extremely lucky that no one was seriously injured. All credit must go to the Transco engineers and the emergency services.

"This was one of the biggest major incidents for many years because it was in such a busy area."

Eye-witnesses described the devastation as they rushed to help shoppers and passers-by.

Sue Reynolds, from Stoke Park was near the shop when the windows. At the time she told the Star of the total chaos which engulfed the area.

"It was horrendous, I thought a bomb had gone off. There were a couple of people inside and we helped them out. I went in with another chap to check there was no one else in there," she said.

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