Man dead after explosion at hotel

UPDATE 8:40PM: Victoria Police has issued a statement confirming that a 34-year-old man has died following an explosion at the Hotel Rochester this afternoon.

Police have been told two men were in the cellar of the hotel in Moore Street when the explosion occurred just after 1.30pm. 

The men, both from Rochester, suffered extensive burns and were airlifted to The Alfred hospital. 

A 52-year-old man remains in hospital. 

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident together with WorkSafe and will prepare a report for the Coroner. 

UPDATE 8.25PM: A spokesperson from The Alfred hospital has confirmed that one of the men is in a critical condition and the other is critical but stable.

The men arrived at the hospital via helicopter just before 5pm.

UPDATE 5.30PM: Two men have severe burns to 40 to 50 per cent of their bodies after an explosion at the Hotel Rochester.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman John Mullen said the injuries included burns to the men's airways.

Mr Mullen said the men had been induced into a coma.

"They’re in the best place of course, the burns unit at The Alfred hospital," Mr Mullen said.

Mr Mullen said it was still unclear what caused the explosion.

"From what we can gather there was no real fire, it was a gas explosion, there’s a suggestion that there may have been some ammonia that ignited or something," he said.

He said the men were treated and stabilized at a nearby oval and then airlifted to The Alfred hospital.

Ambulance services from Bendigo, Echuca and Rochester attended, plus paramedics from two helicopters.

Leading senior constable Shane Flynn of Rochester said the men had gone into the cellar of the hotel to remove a refridgerant compressor.

He said one man was a motor mechanic by trade and the other a fitter. 

He said an "explosive incident" took place about 1.35pm.

He said the two men managed to get out of the cellar but were severely burnt.

He said relatives were yet to be formally informed.

"An investigation into the cause is being conducted cooperatively between Victoria Police and Worksafe," he said.

"There is no visible damage to the building," he said.

UPDATE 4PM: A man aged in his 30s and a second man in his 50s have suffered severe burns to their face and airways after a gas leak explosion at the Hotel Rochester.

Both men are being transferred to The Alfred hospital in Melbourne in a critical condition.

UPDATE 3.50PM: A second man injured in the Hotel Rochester blast has now been airlifted to Melbourne.

UPDATE 3.45PM: One of the injured men has been airlifted from the Rochester football oval and is on his way to Melbourne.

Paramedics are now loading the second injured man into a waiting helicopter for transfer to Melbourne.

UPDATE 3.15PM: Paramedics are trying to stabilise two men injured in a gas explosion at the Hotel Rochester so they can be flown to Melbourne for further treatment.

One man has suffered facial burns and the second internal injuries.

The Bendigo Advertiser has been told the two men were friends of the hotel owner.

It's believed they were moving a fridge and pulled a gas line out which caused an explosion.

UPDATE 2.45PM: Paramedics are transferring one of the injured men to the HEMS3 ambulance helicopter waiting on the Rochester football oval.

A second ambulance helicopter is heading to the scene for the second man.

UPDATE 2.05PM: Two men are being treated for facial burns after a serious gas leak and explosion at the Hotel Rochester in Moore Street.

An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said both men were expected to be flown to Melbourne.

A witness in Rochester said he had spoken to the hotel publican who reported hearing an explosion in his cellar.

The witness said there was a man lying on the ground behind the hotel being treated.

He said the Air Ambulance had just landed on the Rochester football oval.

He said there was no smell of gas in the area.

EARLIER: Emergency services are rushing to the Hotel Rochester after reports of a serious gas leak and possible explosion.

A witness has reported there are several people at the back of the Moore Street hotel with one appearing 'very shaken'.

He said there are several sirens sounding around the town.

More to come...

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