Police are trying to contact the families of two people who died after a stolen car, which had been taken from a house in Farnworth, crashed into parked cars and exploded
The stolen red Audi crashed into parked cars and a wall in Leigh Road, Boothstown. Police had been called to Boscombe Gardens in Farnworth at 8.25pm following reports of an aggravated burglary, during which the red Audi was stolen.
Minutes later, the car was spotted by a passing police patrol on the East Lancashire Road but it went on to crash, killing the two men inside.
Fire crews worked to bring the fire under control.
As enquiries at the scene continue, the two fatally injured people have not been identified and no next of kin have come forward. There have been no reports of missing people.
Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan said: "One of our priorities is to establish the identity of the two people who have died.
"Unfortunately, both people suffered some very serious injuries and we are working closely with the pathologist.
"I urge anyone who may know who they are to come forward. I know that there may be two families out there who have not been contacted by a loved one and our job is to make this devastating time as easy as possible for them."
Two men are understood to have got out of a silver Vauxhall Vectra at a house on Boscombe Gardens in Farnworth, smashed a window and managed to grab the keys to the red Audi S4 Quattro parked outside.
Threats were made to a neighbour who was putting the bins out and both cars were driven off at speed.
The Audi carried the registration M50 UKC.
Minutes later, a red Audi and a silver car were spotted by a passing police car travelling at speed on Cecil Street, Walkden.
A short time later a police car travelling on Walken Road towards the East Lancashire Road saw two cars driving at speed in the opposite direction, towards Leigh Road.
By the time the police car had turned round to give pursuit the vehicles were out of sight. At the time of the collision itself, police were still actively searching for the cars.
At no point did a pursuit actually take place.
A Vauxhall Vectra with the registration KA07 GLK was found abandoned a short time later on Mill Brow in Worsely.
Chief Superintendent Mulligan continued: "We are still at the early stages of our enquiries and we would urge anyone who may have any information to call us.
"We are appealing to witnesses to the aggravated burglary in Farnworth, to anyone who may have seen these cars driving at speed, and to anyone who may have seen the Vectra being abandoned.
"A very thorough, detailed investigation has been launched to examine the whole circumstances surrounding last night's events.
"As part of this, a detailed forensic investigation is being carried out which will take time. We therefore expect that the scene and road diversions to remain in place until at least this evening.
"I completely understand that residents living on Leigh Road will be absolutely shocked and upset to see the aftermath of this collision and the damage caused to a number of people's homes, and we accept that it is fortunate that more lives were not lost.
"We will continue to keep the community informed with any developments.
"There will be a heavy police presence in the area in the coming days so I would urge anyone with either any information about what happened or who has concerns to approach an officer."
A number of homes on Leigh Road were also damaged during the collision and Greater Manchester Police and the Fire Service worked together to ensure those properties were made safe. A handful of residents were displaced as a precaution but are now back in their homes.
As per standard protocol, Greater Manchester Police made a mandatory referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The IPCC is satisfied that the circumstances do not meet the threshold for them to carry out their own investigation. However, in line with procedure a local investigation by the Professional Standards Branch continues.
Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 4741 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111,