Family of four killed by suspected gas blast in house

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The Independent Online
A COUPLE and their two children died yesterday when an explosion, believed to have been caused by a gas leak, demolished their house.

The emergency services spent the day attempting to recover the dead husband, Andrew Findlay, after the bodies of his wife, Janette, and their children were pulled from the rubble. However, they were hampered by difficulties in isolating the gas leak.

The explosion in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, south-east of Glasgow, happened at about 5.30am and badly damaged surrounding houses and a factory as well as putting an old people's home in danger from other buildings.

By the time fire and ambulance crews arrived, a number of fires were burning - several were left to burn themselves out. Ten people from neighbouring houses suffered shock, two of them particularly badly, but no casualties were reported beyond the four members of the Findlay family.

James McCafferty, 42, who lives near the scene of the explosion, said: "There was a tremor throughout the house. I know the wee boy from the house, he goes to my son's school - he was the same age as my boy. They were at the school disco last night."

Chief Superintendent Louis Munn, of Strathclyde Police, said: "A very serious explosion took place in a house and the house was totally destroyed and four other houses were badly damaged. It is too early to speculate on the cause. But we are looking at the possibility of gas."

A carol concert, due to go ahead at Larkhall Academy last night and starring the Findlays' daughter, Stacey, who was killed in the explosion, was postponed as a mark of respect for the family.

Mr Findlay - known as Drew - was a joiner by trade and had been married for about 15 years. The couple were well known in the area, where local people were shocked by what had happened.

Catherine Pink, a friend of the Findlays, described the family as being very close. "They were a lovely family, the kids were beautiful. Stacey was very talented. They were very popular and a good- looking family. Janette did a lot for Craigbank School - she was very popular. She used to help a lot, she will be a big loss.

"I was heartbroken when I heard the news this morning. There's devastation in the community. No one can take it in."

Mrs Pink added that the Findlays' son, Daryl, had won a dancing competition at the school disco on the evening before the explosion.

A telephone helpline for people concerned about relatives or friends has been set up by Hamilton police on 01698 483300.