Seven people were injured, two seriously, after an explosion left a gaping hole in a row of houses in Kent, emergency services said.

Witnesses said they felt their homes shake on Tuesday morning as the explosion destroyed much of a house in Willesborough, near Ashford, leaving the fireplace mantel towering in the air.

Several people were reportedly trapped and had to be released by the emergency services. Two were taken to London hospital with serious injuries, the South East Coast Ambulance Service said, while five others were taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with injuries deemed less serious .

Chantal Weller, a journalism student who lives nearby, told reporters about the “eventful” aftermath of the explosion, with people panicking. She said she felt her house shake at 8 am Tuesday “like something literally flew off to the side.”

The 20-year-old added: “It didn’t make a lot of noise, but there was a big thrill. I looked out the window and saw a lot of people looking at the road and looking worried.

“I went out into the street and saw a lot of police cars whistling on Osborne Road to get to the house. There were people everywhere because of the school run.

Police sought to determine if anyone was missing while local residents were being evacuated from the scene. All residents were then found and the explosion was not considered suspicious, police said.

Firefighters said they were called at 7:57 a.m. and seven fire trucks were used to put out the remaining signs of fire. Members of the public were urged to avoid the area and residents were told to keep their windows closed.

An ambulance service spokesperson said: “Two patients were taken to hospital in London with serious injuries. Five other patients were taken to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with injuries deemed less serious. We remain on the scene to support our colleagues in the emergency services.

A Kent Police spokesperson said: “A number of people were reportedly trapped and released by emergency services.”

The Salvation Army has set up a center in a local village hall to help those who have been evacuated.