Thieves ‘obliterate’ cash machine with huge explosion

Thieves have ‘obliterated’ a cash machine with a massive explosion that flattened trees and shook houses more than two miles away.

Residents in Darlington, County Durham, said the extraordinary blast at a Matalan store flattened trees and signs and scattered debris everywhere.

The obliterated kiosk near the town’s railway station could be seen in front of the clothing and homewear shop following the explosion at about 1am this morning.

Police reassured people in the area that the incident was not terror-related, although witnesses were left in shock at the apparent power of the blast. 

Resident Harry Chown, 28, said he was woken by a ‘violent explosion which shook my house’. He added: ‘It looks like thieves have gone overkill on explosives whilst trying to blow open a standalone ATM.

‘It’s been obliterated and flattened trees and signs and scattered debris everywhere. Social media suggests people two miles away heard it which explains why my house shook so violently only 150 metres away.’

Mr Chown said the explosion had ‘shoved’ the kiosk containing the ATM ‘ten metres along the carpark’.

Locals wrote on social media that they had felt the blast at the store, which is close to the. Kerry Moor wrote on Facebook that she was ‘over two miles away and our house shook’.

James Cummings added: ‘I live directly across from there and was awake at the time and the shock of the explosion shook my house and knocked me out of my bed.’

Dawn Dinsley, who lives nearby, said: ‘The whole of this side of Darlington literally shook. The house shook and I woke up to what sounded like a sonic boom. 

‘My dog ran from upstairs and jumped into my bed because he was so frightened. He must have thought it was like thunder – but you could tell that it wasn’t because of how loud it was.’

The 52-year-old said she looked out of her window to see if it was some kind of gas explosion in one of her neighbour’s houses.

She said: ‘There was no fire and so I went downstairs and put my coat on and went to have a look at what happened.

‘There must only have been five minutes between the explosion and me getting to the scene but there were already loads of police and fire engines.

‘They were putting a cordon in place and it was really dark, but you could see that there was debris everywhere – all over the car park and in the bushes.

‘It looked as though they were being careful in case there was another bit of the bomb that didn’t go off. A police helicopter was flying overhead for ages. It was just such a shock.’

Ms Dinsley said it ran through her mind that it could have been a terror attack but she was more worried about checking that everyone was safe.

She said: ‘You hear about this sort of thing happening in big cities but not in a small town like Darlington. It was clear from looking at the scene that this wasn’t an impulsive thing, it had been thought out.

‘If any of the shrapnel flew out it could have killed anyone walking past or living in the houses opposite. People over two miles away heard the explosion. 

‘The people that did this must have been so desperate to have to do something like this. If they needed money that badly they could have went to a food bank or something like that.

‘It has shaken me up, and I might be a little more careful day-to-day but I won’t let these people win.’

Durham Constabulary tweeted that police were ‘dealing with an incident’ which is ‘not terror related’.