Southall gas explosion: Two dead after building collapses in west London

‘It has been a painstaking and protracted incident with firefighters working systematically to stabilise the building and search for people involved’

Vincent Wood,Rory Sullivan
Thursday 22 October 2020 00:26
Two dead in suspected gas explosion in west London

Two people have died at the site of a suspected gas explosion in Ealing, west London, the London Fire Brigade said.

Police cordoned off both ends of Southall’s King Street as emergency teams worked to recover anyone who could be trapped in the rubble following the blast, which occurred at around 6:30am on Wednesday morning.

However, the London Fire Brigade has since confirmed it has concluded its search for the day after finding the bodies of two people at the scene of the incident. 

Station Commander Paul Morgan said: "It has been a painstaking and protracted incident with firefighters working systematically to stabilise the building and search for people involved.

"Operations have been concluded for the evening and will restart in the morning.

"The explosion caused substantial damage to the shop and structural damage throughout.

"In the initial stages firefighters rescued four adults and one child ... at the rear of the property using a ladder. A further 14 adults and two children self-evacuated from surrounding properties."

Nearby residents said they could feel their homes shake from the force of the explosion in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with Nurmila Hamid, 38, saying she felt the blast as she was getting her children ready for school.

“The house shook, and I turned to my husband and said 'what is that?', and he said 'it's a blast'”, Ms Hamid said.

Mohammad Rafiq, 78, said he and his 76-year-old wife felt “shocked” and “scared” when the noise from the King Street blast woke them at their home.

“I heard it in the morning – it woke me up, it was scary,” said Mr Rafiq, who lives two streets away.

“It sounded like a very dangerous blast so I was scared. We didn’t sleep after that.”

Jatinder Singh, 36, who owns the phone shop where the explosion allegedly occurred, told the Evening Standard that his shop was now an “absolute mess”. He added that he found out about the incident after a neighbour called him.

At least 21 people are known to have been evacuated from the surrounding area. Firefighters used a ladder to rescue five people at the back of the collapsed building, one of whom was injured as a result of the blast.

A further 14 adults and two children vacated the nearby properties as a precaution.

The Metropolitan Police has said the explosion, which took place at around 6.40 am on Wednesday morning, is not being treated as suspicious. 

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