THE family of a four-year-old girl who was killed in an alleged gas explosion had reported a suspect leak, a friend has claimed.

The "happy" tot was pronounced dead at the scene in Galpin's Road, Thornton Heath, on Monday, where locals had been "smelling gas for a week".





Four others were injured in the devastation after the terraced house in South London was razed to the ground as a blast sent debris flying hundreds of feet into the air.

More than 100 people were evacuated from the area, which has now been confirmed by Merton Council as being caused by a gas explosion.

Now its been revealed that the family of deceased toddler had called the gas company about a suspected leak but were "given an appointment."

Close family friend Thoheed Maricar, 52, said: “Neighbours had reported the smell of gas for about a week.

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“The family tried to get hold of the gas company but the gas company didn’t come straight away. They were given an appointment.

“I’ve not heard anything like this before. The mother couldn’t talk, to me, they are in that much pain. The whole family is in so much pain."

It comes after locals told The Sun that gas works had been taking place for "four weeks".

Some residents at the cordon said they had reported a strong gas smell two weeks ago, and others said they had been feeling dizzy and sick over the last two days.

Others said engineers had been working on the street and digging holes in people's homes in recent days to resolve the issue.

One man Delroy Simms, 62, who helped save three children, said: "I already knew what it was because that gas was smelling all week, really strong. It was giving me a headache yesterday.

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"My neighbour has been calling them (gas engineers) all week. When I heard the explosion it was like an earthquake.

"It shook me up, and my house. The shutters on our windows blew off their hinges. I went to the window and saw the devastation."

Meanwhile, Reverend Deji Ayorinde, of the nearby Pollards Hill Baptist Church, has said there is anger in the community surrounding "unanswered questions."

He said: "This thing was reported and it still wasn't resolved days or weeks later.

"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."

But a spokesperson for gas company SGN who were conducting works on the street told The Sun their engineers are working closely with emergency services to establish the cause of the explosion.

They added: "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."

Two adults and an 11-year-old boy were rescued from the wreckage of the property and a desperate search was launched to find the missing girl, London Fire Brigade said.

Three have been taken to hospital with life-changing injuries, a further person was treated at the scene.

'LIVELY AND HAPPY CHILD'

A resident described the children who lived in the house as "lively" and "happy".

Maureen Clare, 74, said there were four children and a mother living in the terrace house.

Ms Clare, who lives opposite and was visibly shaken by the incident, said: "They're very lively kids.

"They were always mischievous, happy and bouncing around."

The mother was screaming and saying: 'One of my daughters is still inside'. Everything was falling.

The police cordon remains in place at the scene today – with a fire engine and several police cars stationed outside the destroyed property.

A large pile of rubble surrounded by red and white fencing is all that remains of the collapsed house.

Officers in high visibility jackets can be seen marshalling the cordon while mourners continue to drop off tributes to the victim.

'RIP ANGEL'

As well as bunches of flowers, friends and family have also arranged teddy bears, toys, flowers, letters and chalk drawings on the corner of Galphin's Road.

One letter left at the scene reads: “Dear neighbours I am so sorry for your loss.

"I’m sure she would have been an amazing strong girl, but now she is in a better place.”

Chalk messages have been drawn on a pavement near the house – among them are the words “taken away too soon”, “R.I.P Angel, “lots of love” and “spread your wings”.

White teddy bears with red ribbons, a pink unicorn, yellow duck, and a princess doll have also been piled on the side of the road, while hearts, rainbows and other messages of love are also lining the street.

Following the tragedy, Richard Welch, Deputy Assistant Commissioner at London Fire Brigade (LFB), said: "Firefighters carried out a substantial search of the property.

"Sadly a child was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Our thoughts are with their family, friends and the local community at this time."

Those injured were from the collapsed property and surrounding homes.

The fire brigade said they were not conducting any further searches for anyone else but will continue to work on the scene through the rest of the day and overnight.

Around 40 properties have been evacuated as a precaution and a 50 metre cordon is now in place, Mr Welch added.

Six fire engines and around 45 firefighters were on the scene in three minutes, according to LFB.

Shocking images from the area show the scale of the devastation with numerous homes damaged in the explosion.

And one harrowing picture shows a child's bedroom gutted by the blast – a toy can be seen on the wall.

'DON'T FEEL SAFE'

Dee Akomanyi, 45, who has lived on the street for around 30 years, said she keeps having flashbacks to the horrific scene.

Standing with her 25-year-old daughter Zhane Akomanyi, she said: “Last night, I couldn’t sleep, I kept having these flashbacks, it’s traumatising.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and I don’t feel safe anymore.

“It’s devastating, I could hear the screams from the parents when it all happened.”

The mum-of-one said she left her house shortly before the blast on Monday and could smell what she believed to be gas.

She added: “Yesterday I left the house at around 6.55am and I smelt gas – it was really strong.

“10 minutes after we left there was an explosion.

“I could smell this sweet, sulphury stench all through the night, I couldn’t sleep because of it.

“People were reporting it, but nothing was done, it’s scary.”

Another resident from further down the street said their door had blown open when the explosion happened.

'MY BOY'

And a mum was heard screaming in the street for "my boy" amid the heart-breaking scenes, MyLondon reported.

He added the council has opened an evacuation centre at the New Horizons Centre in Croydon and so far had supported around 100 residents.

Residents were being housed in nearby accommodation by the council, with one saying that authorities said it could take five to 10 days before they could go home.

People who had been evacuated from Galpin's Road in their pyjamas told how their windows had shattered from the force of the explosion.

One lady who lives just a few doors down from where the blast happened wrote on Facebook: "I'm very shaken."

Meanwhile another said: "The bang frightened the life out of me.

"I'm opposite Galpin's, they have the helicopter circling & can hear sirens."

A third added: "I don’t even live close but I thought I heard a massive bang around that time and couldn’t figure out what it could be.

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"I know sound travels. I hope the residents are all safe."

One woman, who lives three and a half miles away in Colliers Wood, added: "Did we just have an earthquake? Did anyone else feel that?"




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