London: Two people were killed after a suspected gas explosion that led to a building collapse in Southall, the west London suburb. The west London suburb has a large Punjabi-origin Indian diaspora population. The gas explosion occurred at a hair salon and phone shop underneath a set of flats Wednesday. Those deceased are expected to be of Indian-origin.
Four adults and one child, of Punjabi-origin, were rescued at the rear of the property using a ladder. Several people from nearby homes evacuated the King Street area of Southall as London Fire Brigade worked on the ‘protracted’ incident.
The Metropolitan Police said the two people killed in the explosion are yet to be formally identified. Some local reports indicated that the victims may be of Indian-origin.
“A large explosion was found to have taken place inside a shop. Emergency services entered the building and sadly, two people were pronounced dead at the scene. Formal identification has not taken place, and next of kin have not been informed,” a Met Police spokesperson said.
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“An early assessment suspected the cause to be a gas explosion. Emergency services are continuing to work together to establish the exact cause which is currently unexplained,” the spokesperson said.
Jatinder Singh, the Indian-origin owner of the shop ‘Dr Phone’ which was burnt down in the fire. He told local media that he was in a state of shock. “I don’t know how to explain how I’m feeling. I have lost everything. I don’t know what to say – I’m in shock,” Singh said.
London Fire Brigade said it was called to the fire early Wednesday and rushed in six fire engines and around 40 firefighters. The Fire Brigade said the explosion had caused substantial damage to the shop and structural damage throughout and that their operation would spill over into Thursday.