Residents Return to South London Homes After Gas Explosion That Killed Girl, 4

Residents Return to South London Homes After Gas Explosion That Killed Girl, 4
The aftermath of a gas explosion in Thornton Heath, south London, on Aug. 8, 2022. (PA)
Chris Summers
Residents of a street in south London are being allowed to return home four days after a gas explosion that killed a four-year-old girl.

Sahara Salman died when her house in Galpin's Road, Thornton Heath, collapsed after the explosion, which occurred at 7 a.m. on Aug. 8.

Her mother, Sana Ahmad, has accused utility firm SGN of “negligence” for allegedly failing to respond to months of complaints by residents about the lingering smell of gas.

An 11-year-old boy and a woman, aged 54, were both seriously injured in the explosion, and dozens more suffered from shock.

Eighty houses were cordoned off since the incident and families evacuated but some residents were finally allowed back on Friday afternoon after 30 houses were declared “gas safe.”

Gas engineers and police officers wearing bodycams escorted the residents back to their homes as an investigation gets under way into what caused the disaster.

The Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime Command has launched a probe into the explosion, although there is no suggestion foul play was involved.

SGN—formerly known as Southern Gas Networks—is a private company formed in 2005 and responsible for distributing gas in Scotland, London, and southern England.

Gas Company Boss 'Shocked and Saddened'

On Thursday around 100 residents attended a meeting at a local community centre, where SGN's Martin Holloway, executive operations director, said he was “shocked and saddened” by Sahara's death.

He said: "Whilst I appreciate it is frustrating given the ongoing police investigation, I'm unable to talk about what happened in the run-up to the explosion. I know that's difficult because people want answers about what's happening."

Sahara Salman died in a gas explosion in south London. (Met Police)
Sahara Salman died in a gas explosion in south London. (Met Police)

Several residents accused SGN of having “blood on their hands” and claimed they had made 18 calls to the company to complain about gas smells in the weeks leading up to the explosion.

SGN and the police will meet with representatives of the London Fire Brigade, Merton Council, and the Health Safety Executive on Friday to ascertain when the other evacuated families can return home.

Merton Council texted residents on Friday to let them know that gas inspections need to take place before they can return home.

Dozens of gas engineers are still digging up the street, inspecting a mains gas pipe to get to the cause of the explosion.

PA Media contributed to this report.
Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in crime, policing and the law.
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