A mother has told of her heartbreak after her “incredible” daughter died just a month before her fifth birthday, following a deadly explosion in Thornton Heath.
Four-year-old Sahara Salman was killed and three others left injured after the blast demolished a terraced home in south London just after 7am on Monday.
Speaking for the first time since the tragic incident, her mother Sana Ahmad said her “world has been torn apart” as she paid tribute to her “incredible little girl”.
Ms Ahmad, 28, also accused Southern Gas Networks (SGN) of “negligence” and claimed to have contacted the gas supplier about a suspected leak on July 30.
Recounting the horrifying explosion, Ms Ahmad said she was on the phone to her mother when the blast happened.
“I made a phone call to my mum because we had arranged for her to collect the children. My mum was going to make her way to the house about 7.05am. So, I’m on the phone and within seconds she heard me scream because there was a big bang.
“I had two children in my room and then Sahara in the box room, and my eldest in the room towards the garden. My room is the one facing the main road.
“My instinct was to grab all my children but as I’d gone to the hallway Sahara’s room had collapsed already. There was no sign of me even getting to her.
“The explosion was so bad that it almost fell like missiles were dropped on the properties. That’s how quickly the building started to fall down,” she said.
“Within seconds of me screaming – it was my dad and my brother who made their way into the property.
“They had to break down the door to get in and they pulled my children out to safety. My family did everything to help us at that point.”
Ms Ahmad claimed she had called the gas company on July 30.
“My mum identified the smell on the 30th of July. The first call we made to them was on the same day at 3.57pm.”
Ms Ahmad said SGN sent someone to investigate the leak the following day but she was told there were no major issues.
“He said that he would send another guy who was higher up than him to inspect the property because he wasn’t totally sure. Unfortunately that other guy never did show up. The work wasn’t fully carried out. …They did tell us there were loads of little gas leaks – they said that pipes had been leaking but that they were minor leaks.
“The saddest thing is that we tried to prevent this from happening. The gas people should have ensured the safety of not only us but every single person who lives in that area.
“Now we’re all suffering – the whole community. And now we all have to live with the trauma of a little girl dying.”
Ms Ahmad said she is now scared to sit in a building “without worrying that the ceiling is going to come down”.
She said the “biggest question” she wants answered is “why the gas problem has been neglected for such a long time”.
“Ultimately people are in a critical state – neighbours have been badly injured and we’ll also have to deal with the trauma of saying goodbye to our four-year-old daughter for the rest of our lives.
“She died a month before her 5th birthday and we had so many plans in place. She was starting school in September – her uniform was bought, it was in the house and all of this could have been prevented if people weren’t being lazy and did their job properly. That’s the fact of the matter.”
She hailed her daughter as “the most incredible little girl”, adding: “The world is so cruel. We have lost our daughter who is our pride and our joy.
“This world didn’t deserve somebody who was so special. It’s our loss. She was the most amazing thing to ever walk this planet.”
Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhan McDonagh, this week said she has written to gas firm SGN demanding answers.
She said: “This should never have happened, we will get to the bottom of it.”
On Monday a spokeswoman for SGN, which is the gas emergency service in the area, said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family of the child who has tragically died as well as those injured.
“We’d like to reassure everyone our engineers are working closely with the emergency services. Given the ongoing police investigation, it is inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.”
SGN has been contacted for comment.