Chepstow explosion: Man seriously injured in house blast

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Media captionWitnesses capture the moments that followed the explosion

A man has suffered serious injuries after an explosion in a house in Monmouthshire.

Gwent Police said homes have been evacuated following the incident on Lower Church Street, Chepstow.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said it had sent a large number of resources to a property after being called just before 18:30 BST.

Gwent Police said the man, who was inside the house, was taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

The Welsh Ambulance said an air ambulance, two rapid response vehicles, an emergency ambulance and the hazardous area response team – a group of paramedics trained to go into the “hot zone” of incidents – had also been sent to the scene.

A cordon is in place, with police advising people to stay away from the area.

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Liza Hawkins

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Smoke could be seen rising from the area

Footage, filmed from Tutshill Cliff, shows fire engines either side of the house spraying jets of water on the building to try and put the fire out.

Ben Powell lives opposite and was wearing headphones when he heard “a massive bang”.

“It shook my flat,” said the 27-year-old chef.

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Lisa Hutchinson

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A witness described hearing a “massive bang”

“I looked out my window and there were literally bits of the house opposite everywhere and people were screaming.

“The house looked like a bomb had gone off inside but then there was a little flame – and within two minutes the whole house had caught fire.

“It’s dreadful. I just hope everyone is OK.”

Wales and West Utilities said it attended the house following the explosion and was working with the emergency services to make the area safe and to investigate the cause.

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Guy Hamilton

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Firefighters are on the scene at Lower Church Street

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Chepstow News Centre

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South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said it had sent a large number of resources to tackle the blaze

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House Democrats blast Boeing for ‘inexcusable’ failure to disclose 737 MAX failings

The report charges that the congressionally mandated delegation system that allows aircraft manufacturers to approve their own designs as safe, under FAA supervision, is rife with inherent conflicts of interest. For instance, aircraft manufacturers supervise and pay the salaries of the people that are supposed to be the “eyes and ears of the FAA” — resulting in what committee Democrats call “regulatory capture on the part of the FAA,” leading to failures of oversight.

In four instances, the committee found that the FAA’s representatives at Boeing, working as part of the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program, “failed to represent the interests of the FAA” and allowed corporate cost-cutting priorities to color their judgment.

House Transportation Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) told reporters Tuesday that his legislation is “not going to scrap the whole [ODA] process“ but that he does plan on “adopting significant reforms.”

“Both FAA and Boeing came to the conclusion that the certification of the MAX, which killed 346 people in two accidents just a few months apart, was ‘compliant,’” DeFazio said. “But the problem is it was compliant but not safe, and people died. Obviously the system is inadequate.”

The committee found that Boeing was determined not to let differences between the older 737 NG aircraft and the new 737 MAX be deemed significant enough to require simulator training for pilots transitioning to the new aircraft, as that level of training would cost Boeing as much as $1 million per plane. As a result, the impact of the new flight control system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), had to be downplayed. FAA representatives at Boeing went along with this and did not clue the agency in to the real impact of the changes, even as they privately expressed reservations.

In a May 2013 strategy meeting, Boeing officials discussed the “problem” that “every new buzzword represents a company and airline cost via changed manuals, changed training, changed maintenance manuals.“ The recommended action that arose was to “investigate deletion of MCAS nomenclature and cover under the umbrella of ‘revised speed trim.’”

The committee said it appears that both the FAA’s designee to Boeing and the team manager agreed to keep “referring to MCAS by name internally“ and “externally we would communicate it as an addition to Speed Trim.”

Boeing has disputed this account, but the committee asserts that since that 2013 meeting, “Boeing has, in fact, repeatedly characterized MCAS as an addition to speed trim.“ As a result, pilots were left largely in the dark about significant changes to the aircraft.

Those designated safety representatives were also aware that faulty sensors giving incorrect readings of the angle of the airplane could repeatedly trigger the MCAS in a way that could make the plane hard to control, but did not inform the FAA. The “mandatory” alert that’s supposed to warn pilots when the sensors are in disagreement — indicating a possible sensor malfunction — were inoperable in fully 80 percent of the MAX planes. Still, FAA designees knowingly delivered

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