Neighbors of a home in London that exploded on Monday, killing a four-year-old and injuring three others, claimed they had been able to smell gas for weeks before the explosion. This marks the fifth fatality from seven such explosions within the last 15 months in Great Britain.
People living on Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, near Croydon, said they had reported a strong smell of gas in the two weeks before the incident at around 7 a.m. Monday, which left a terraced house collapsed.
Some residents say they had been feeling sick over the past few days with dizziness being a common symptom. One individual said they could still smell gas after the blast, the force of which shattered windows and damaged nearby properties.
Witnesses said they saw the mother of the child come out of the rubble with bleeding hands and screaming: “One of my daughters is still inside. What about my child? They can’t find her.”
Emergency utility repair and maintenance works were being carried out on the road by Southern Gas Networks at the time of the incident, but residents claimed they had not seen any workers for several days before the blast.
London Fire Brigade’s deputy assistant commissioner Richard Welch said in regard to the claims that residents smelled gas before the explosion, “Unfortunately we can’t say if it’s gas that’s caused it. It will become a police investigation now.”
“We dealt with the emergency phase of the incident and we will be handing it over to local authorities and local police.”
Should the explosion be discovered to have been caused by gas, it would be the seventh in 15 months within the island nation. These previous gas explosions have caused the deaths of a two-year-old boy as well as a 44-year-old woman, a 79-year-old man and a 91-year-old retiree.
The explosion shook homes in the Thornton Heath area of London with the fire and subsequent rescue operation seeing 40 firefighters on scene, supported by police and paramedics.
The Sun reported that two adults and an 11-year-old boy were rescued from the rubble before confirming that a four-year-old girl had died.
Southern Gas Networks, which had been carrying out works on the road at the time of the incident, expressed its sympathies and said it is working closely with the emergency services to establish the cause of the explosion.
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