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Southall 'gas explosion': Two dead after blast at shop in west London

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 21/10/2020 John Dunne, Barney Davis
a group of people standing in front of a building © Provided by Evening Standard

Two people have died after a suspected gas explosion ripped through a shop in west London, firefighters have said.

The blast happened at a phone shop and barbers on King Street in Ealing at around 6.20am on Wednesday.

Footage on social media shows firefighters climbing into the building to help a person trapped in a flat on the upper floor.

Four adults and one child were pulled from the wreckage. In a statement just after 4pm the London Fire Brigade said two people were pronounced dead at the scene.

a store inside of a building: Firefighters rescued a family from the back of the building (@UB1UB2) © Provided by Evening Standard Firefighters rescued a family from the back of the building (@UB1UB2)

Another 16 residents, including two children, were evacuated from blast site.

Station Commander Paul Morgan said: “Our crews have search the property using specialist equipment including the use of a USAR dogs. We can confirm that sadly two people have died at the scene.

“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.

"Firefighters at scene after suspected gas explosion at shop in Southall"
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"In the initial stages firefighters rescued four adults and one child were rescued at the rear of the property using a ladder. A further fourteen adults and two children self evacuated from surrounding properties.”

Harmeet Singh, of the Southall Singh Sabha Gurdwara temple, has been helping rescue survivors since 7am. He told the Standard: “The blast was felt over a mile away. We fear there have been deaths. There was a lot of shock and the survivors are shaken."

The owner of the mobile phone shop Dr Phone that was destroyed in the blast said he was "shocked" to arrive at the scene.

a person standing in front of a brick building: (PA) The wreckage of the flats in Southall © Provided by Evening Standard (PA) The wreckage of the flats in Southall

Jatinder Singh, 36, said he received a phone call from a neighbour to tell him his mobile phone shop had been totally destroyed.

He told the Standard: “It’s an absolute mess.

“I’m not sure what happened, I’m in shock. My landlord is in there now looking he is in shock too. I don’t know if anyone was hurt or who was living upstairs. There is too much I have lost in there.”

He added: "I locked up my shop as usual last night and didn't think anything was wrong. Then I got a phone call from a neighbour to get down here that my shop was totally destroyed.

"I’m ok, I'm not hurt. The police have a special dog team and are keeping everyone away.”

A huge cordon has been thrown up around King Street as fire investigators began their investigation into the explosion.

Firefighters were called to the explosion at 6.40am (@UB1UB2) © Provided by Evening Standard Firefighters were called to the explosion at 6.40am (@UB1UB2)

A local business owner said: “There was a huge bang like an explosion. My shop shook. We hear there are injuries... it’s a shock to us all.”

Another said: “We have been told a gas canister exploded. There are police and firefighters everywhere. We are hoping everyone we know there is ok. It’s a very close knit community.”

an old brick building: (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard (PA)

Around 40 firefighters Southall, Hayes, Heston, Ealing and Feltham fire stations are at the scene.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said they were not treating the explosion as suspicious.

He added: "A large explosion was found to have taken place inside a shop. One man was found injured. Road closures have been put in place and nearby residents have been evacuated."

"At this early stage, it is believed to be a gas explosion and is not being treated as suspicious."

This story is being updated.

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