LOWER TOWNSHIP - The mayor of a town in Cape May County says neighbors worked to free a couple trapped in the debris of a house that exploded.

Lower Township officials say the home on the 200 block of East Atlantic Avenue blew up at about 3:30 p.m. yesterday.

Mayor Michael Beck, who lives nearby, says it sounded louder than thunder.

The blast leveled the house and sent debris flying onto neighboring properties and into the street.

Beck says neighbors deserve "kudos" for teaming up to pull the couple out of the debris.

The victims, both in their 60s, were taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center in critical condition.

Township Manager Michael Voll says new gas lines were just installed in the neighborhood. The cause of the explosion is under investigation.