Two dead in suspected gas explosion in Southall

The scene in Southall Credit: PA

Two people have died after a suspected gas explosion in a shop underneath flats that led to the collapse of the building.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) had earlier said they believe there are fatalities within the property on King Street in Southall, west London, but were unable to confirm how many.

Emergency workers are involved in a “complex” and “painstaking” operation as they continue to search for anyone who may still be inside after the incident on Wednesday.

Station Commander Paul Morgan said: “Our crews continue to search the property using specialist equipment including the use of USAR (urban search and rescue) dogs.

“Sadly we believe that there are fatalities within the property although we’re unable to confirm numbers at this stage.

Emergency services at the scene Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

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

“It is a painstaking and protracted incident with firefighters working systematically to stabilise the building and search for people involved. We’d ask for people to avoid the area at this time.

“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.”

Pictures taken behind the property show debris jutting out of the building.

LFB said they were called just before 6.40am, adding that six fire engines and about 40 firefighters attended the scene.

LFB’s specialist urban search and rescue (USAR) crews are carrying out the operation.

A spokesman said the windows of the shop were “completely blown out” in the incident.

The Metropolitan Police said the incident is not being treated as suspicious and is believed to be a gas explosion.

The force said a large explosion was found to have taken place inside a shop and a man was found injured.

Firefighters rescued four adults and one child. Credit: PA

A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said they have treated and discharged one person, and they are continuing to work with other emergency services at the scene.

Residents near the scene described their home shaking.

Nurmila Hamid, 38, said she felt the blast as she was getting her children ready for school.

She said: “The house shook, and I turned to my husband and said ‘what is that?’

“And he said ‘it’s a blast’ and he went to look after taking the children to school – he said it was at a phone shop.”

Police have cordoned off either end of King Street as emergency teams work to recover anybody who might be in the shop affected and surrounding buildings.

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,” Mr Rafiq said, who lives two streets away.

“It sounded like a very dangerous blast so I was scared.

“We didn’t sleep after that.”