Thornton Heath: Girl, 4, killed in gas explosion named

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·5-min read
The scene in Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London, where the London Fire Brigade (LFB) report that a house has collapsed amid a fire and explosion. Picture date: Monday August 8, 2022.
The scene in Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London, after a gas explosion on Monday. (PA)

A four-year-old girl killed in a gas explosion in south London has been named locally as Sahara Salman.

The youngster was found among the rubble of a terraced house following an explosion on Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath at just after 7am on Monday.

She was reported missing in the aftermath of the explosion, then the London Ambulance Service confirmed she had passed away on Monday afternoon.

A family friend said Sahara was a "beautiful" and "cute" girl.

Watch: Drone footage shows aftermath of Thornton Heath gas explosion

The friend claimed the family had been in touch with the gas company a week before the blast.

It is thought the family were in the house next door when the explosion went off.

It is understood her parents, Sana and Syed Muhammad Salman Ilyas, escaped from the blast uninjured.

Family friend Thoheed Maricar, 52, said Sahara's 11-year-old brother was taken to hospital in the aftermath of the blast.

A woman lays flowers near Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London. The London Ambulance Service has confirmed a child has died and three people are in hospital after the terraced home collapsed following an explosion and fire on Monday. Picture date: Tuesday August 9, 2022.
A woman lays flowers near Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London. (PA)

Maricar said: "Yesterday the mum was crying and she was in a horrible situation as she had just lost a baby.

"I was called up at around 9am yesterday and was told 'uncle, there has been a big blast at a neighbour's house'.

"The mum was saying 'my third child is missing' but she couldn't really talk to me. She was crying and screaming.

"The girl is a beautiful, cute four-year-old. She was a happy girl. She played around a lot and was very active.

He added: "I feel very, very sad about what has happened. It is just a terrible situation.

"The family had tried to get hold of the gas company a couple of times last week and neighbours had been trying to get hold of the gas company.

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General view debris at the scene of an explosion on Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London. The London Ambulance Service has confirmed a child has died and three people are in hospital after the terraced home collapsed following an explosion and fire on Monday. Picture date: Tuesday August 9, 2022.
General view of the debris at the scene of an explosion on Galpin's Road. (PA)

Bunches of flowers and around 10 teddy bears were laid at the scene and tributes were scrawled in chalk across a nearby pavement in dedication to the little girl.

Three others who were injured were taken to hospital while a fourth person was treated at the scene.

Authorities have said the incident was a gas explosion, and an investigation has been launched to establish the cause.

Locals reported a strong gas smell in the area for around two weeks before, while others said engineers had been working on the street in recent days to resolve the issue.

The area's MP, Siobhain McDonagh, said Southern Gas Networks (SGN) had "very serious questions to answer".

The Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden added: "There is a lot of anger around SGN and delays in resolving the gas leak."

SGN has said it is working to establish the cause.

On Tuesday lunchtime the police cordon was extended at the request of the Health and Safety Executive which is seeing elevated gas readings, according to London Fire Brigade (LFB).

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Soft toys and a lampost are seen in an exposed room of a property in Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London, where a house collapsed amid a fire and explosion. A four-year-old girl is feared missing after a terraced home collapsed following an explosion, according to neighbours. Picture date: Monday August 8, 2022.
Soft toys and a lampost are seen in an exposed room of a property in Galpin's Road. (PA)

More than 100 people were evacuated to the nearby New Horizon’s Centre on Monday, where they were briefed on the situation by Merton Council officers, the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade later in the evening.

Some grew agitated and raised their voices as they were told they would not be able to return to their homes and that workers had been unable to turn off the gas.

Reverend Deji Ayorinde, of the nearby Pollards Hill Baptist Church, said there was anger that no representatives of gas companies were at the briefing to answer questions.

The scene in Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath after the explosion. (PA)
The scene in Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath after the explosion. (PA)

"This thing was reported and it still wasn’t resolved days or weeks later," he said.

"Who takes ownership for that? The anger has built up because it has now cost a life and that’s a catalyst for the strength of emotion around this."

One resident also said they had been told it could be five to ten days until they are able to return to their homes.

The 48-year-old, who lives on Galpin’s Road and wished to remain anonymous, also said the gas company not turning up to the community centre to answer questions from residents was "disrespectful".

She said: "They have not been here. Everyone is disgusted. It is heartbreaking, it is disrespectful. They owe it to the people who have supported the family."

The London Fire Brigade at the scene. (PA)
The London Fire Brigade at the scene. (PA)

The woman said she had had nose bleeds in recent days while others on the street had felt unwell.

Deborah Monfries, 62, claimed that both she and her husband Arthur, 62, started experiencing symptoms like dizziness.

Emergency services at the scene. (PA)
Emergency services at the scene. (PA)

Gas distribution company SGN, which is the gas emergency service in the area, said in a statement earlier on Monday: "Following the explosion in Galpin’s Road, Thornton Heath, earlier today, our deepest sympathies are with the family of the child who has tragically died as well as those who have been injured.

"We’d like to reassure everyone that our engineers are working closely with the emergency services to establish the cause of the explosion. Given the ongoing police investigation, it is inappropriate to comment any further at this stage."