Shocked residents were gathered at the edge of the cordon set up around today's Sunderland explosion, as the full extent of the damage began to sink in.
A semi-detached house in Rosslyn Avenue, Ryhope, has been destroyed and the property next door badly damaged by the blast just before 9am.
Scores of police, ambulance and firefighters were at the scene, with debris strewn across the road.
Northern Gas Networks engineers were also on site, as investigations were carried out into the cause of the explosion.
A woman in a neighbouring street said half the property had been flattened and the other half was wrecked.
Tracey Pounder, 51, said: "I heard an almighty bang. I went upstairs and you could see dust rising.
"Soon after there were sirens. The response was fantastic.
"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."
Sean Hughes, 40, heard the explosion over a mile away.
He said: "I saw the window move and the house shook."
One Facebook user claimed her sister had been airlifted to hospital from the property and was "conscious and talking".
She added that the victim's daughter was not at home at the time.
In a post on a local community group, she said: "There must be a God somewhere, how the hell can anyone survive that explosion."
Graham Gowland, executive director of property at Gentoo Group, which owns the properties, said: “We are aware of an incident that occurred at two of our properties on Rosslyn Avenue, in Ryhope.
“The safety of our residents is paramount, and we have staff at the scene offering support.
“We are doing everything that we can, and are working closely with the emergency services and all other parties involved whilst investigations are underway.”