Birmingham’s Black Friday

I went to a Journalism course a few days ago, and they gave us a task of creating a front page news on a large explosion in National Exhibition Centre. We were given bits of news, and in the span of one and a half hours (by when our news had to go for "publishing"), we kept getting in more pieces of information. It was a stimulating experience. And this is what I created for the front page of Birmingham Mail.

A massive gas explosion has rocked the city of Birmingham, earlier today, injuring at least 60 people, leaving 10 in critical condition.

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, the seventh largest exhibition centre in Europe, witnessed the brunt of it. Andrew Satterthwaite, Deputy Chief Constable, has confirmed that it was a “gas explosion”.

Residents from Lozells and Perry Bar, as far as seven miles away from the NEC, have reported hearing a deafening noise of the blast.

The emergency services were called and were at the scene in 5 minutes.

John Hodgson, a bus driver, said that it was the “loudest noise” he’s ever heard in his life. He said that the windows of his bus “blew out”. There was chaos all over.

Alan Richards, who was present at the people A&E Department at the hospital, saw hoards of Ambulances arriving at the scene with injured people. “It’s like they are arriving from a war zone”, he said.

Simon Chiles, an eyewitness, said that he heard “three to four loud bangs”. He said that there was smoke everywhere. There was “lots of blood” and “plenty of injuries”. Mr. Chiles said that the windows were “smashed in”.

There’s anarchy on the roads of West Midlands and the police has advised residents “not to travel, unless they have to”. There are severe traffic jams, the buses are being diverted and there’s a sense of unease and uncertainty in the minds of people. The whole city seems shaken up by the proceedings.

An emergency contact number has been issued by the Police, call 0800 81 2583, for more information.