Two people are fighting for their lives following a 'gas explosion' in North Lanarkshire.

Homes were evacuated in the wake of the incident at the building which is under demolition in Newmains.  

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said there was a "small explosion"  which resulted in a "small fire" in the building in Bonkle Road. The alarm was raised at 1.29pm.

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Two people received urgent medical treatment by trauma accident and emergency specialists with life-threatening injuries and were rushed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

It is understood they received urgent medical attention while travelling to hospital.

SGN, formerly Scotland Gas Networks have said their engineers "made the situation safe "by turning off the gas supply to the building.

The Health and Safety Executive have carried out initial investigations.

It is understood the premises may have been near, or part of, Newmains Pastoral Centre. The disused building was formerly used as a retreat centre for the Diocese of Motherwell.

Police evacuated nearby properties following reports of a "strong smell of gas" in the area as a precautionary measure.

Locals talked of their houses shaking from the force of the blast at the former convent building where workers were removing asbestos.

It is understood workers moved in on Wednesday to remove asbestos in preparation for the demolition of the building.

The air ambulance comes to the rescue.

"We understand several people are injured and are being treated in hospital.   Our thoughts are with them and their family," said an SGN spokesman.  "The cause of the explosion is under investigation."

One local said: "Heard a massive bang a while ago & now hearing reports of a gas explosion in Newmains."

Another said: "What is happening in Newmains???? There was a loud bang that shook my windows and then all I've heard for the last half hour is sirens."

Neil Gray the SNP MP for Airdrie & Shotts  said he was "shocked" to hear about the explosion.

"I have contacted Police Scotland and will keep in touch with them for updates as things develop.

"I am available should anyone need my help and my thoughts and best wishes for a speedy recovery go to those who have been injured in the blast."

HeraldScotland:

Clare Adamson, MSP for Motherwell & Wishaw, was also shocked adding: "The area has been cordoned off and the incident has been reported to the Health & Safety Executive by Police Scotland. I understand that there are no outstanding safety concerns at this time.

"My thoughts are with the two individuals injured to whom I wish a speedy recovery."

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "We are currently attending an incident in Bonkle Roard, Newmains involving a small explosion in a commercial building.

"Operations control immediately mobilised two fire applicances to the scene, after the alarm was raised.

"Firefighters are currently tackling a small fire with powerful water jets. Two casualties are being treated by the Scottish Ambulance Service."

HeraldScotland:

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We received a call at 1333 hours today to attend an address on Bonkle Road in Wishaw.

“We dispatched two ambulances, our special operations response team, the trauma team, an officer and our Helimed air ambulance.

“The first unit arrived on scene within three minutes.”

Residents were later allowed back into their homes.

A small emergency presence remained at the scene on Thursday evening after the blast.

One eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: "I was walking past and there was a huge bang just as I was heading home.

"I wondered what it was, then about 10 minutes later the police and emergency services arrived.

"I still don't know what caused it."

The explosion led to cordons being erected around the blast area where shards of glass could be seen on the road.

It was closed to traffic while gas investigators probe the cause of the explosion.