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Police name four-year-old girl killed in Thornton Heath gas explosion

The scene in Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, south London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
The scene in Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, south London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

A four-year-old girl who died in a gas explosion in south London has been named by police as Sahara Salman.

Metropolitan Police officers were called on Monday morning to a home on Galpin’s Road, Thornton Heath, amid reports of a fire and explosion.

Sahara’s body was recovered from the ruins of a terraced house in what was labelled a “shocking event”.

Her family are being supported by specially-trained officers, and a post-mortem examination is due to take place soon.

An 11-year-old boy and 54-year-old woman who were injured in the blast remain in hospital, with neither in a life-threatening condition.

“The thoughts of all of us at the Metropolitan Police remain with Sahara’s family, and those who have been injured,” Supt Richard Smith of the South West Command Unit said.

“This has been a shocking event that has understandably had a deep impact on the local community.”

The cordon was extended to around 80 homes on Tuesday after high gas readings were detected in the area.

“Officers… are working diligently to ensure that the cause of this incident is established and it is safe for those residents who have been displaced to return to their homes,” Supt Smith continued.

“It is difficult to put a definitive timeframe on when this will be but it must be done with the safety of residents first.

“I want to reassure those affected that we will be doing this as swiftly as the investigation allows.”

Given the case’s “sensitive and complex” nature, the Met’s Specialist Crime Command has joined the investigation, with South West Command Unit providing support.

Thornton Heath incident
The scene in Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Thornton Heath residents, several of whom recalled a strong smell of gas in the last two weeks, have expressed outrage over the explosion.

The Rev Deji Ayorinde, who is helping co-ordinate the community’s response, compared Sahara’s “unnecessary” death to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

“She only lived for four years, but… as a child she represented life and hope and security and a future, a good future – it’s incumbent upon us who are living to carry that on,” he told the PA news agency.

“We saw it with Lakanal in 2009, we saw it with Grenfell in 2017, we’re seeing it in Galpin’s in 2022.

“For goodness’ sake, you people in authority, people in responsibility, when will you actually just be responsible and listen to the voices of the individuals?”

Locals Nick and Maria Hillman said SGN, the gas company, bore the brunt of community anger at a gathering of evacuated residents on Tuesday.

Mr Hillman said: “Last night in the meeting quite a lot of people were getting very vocal and shouting and saying, ‘where are they, where are they, where are they?’”

An SGN spokesman said: “We understand the local community has also been deeply affected by the serious incident and we’d like to reassure everyone we are working closely with investigators and assisting the emergency services.

“SGN will continue to have a presence on site in the coming days.

“Given the ongoing police investigation, we are unable to comment any further at this stage.”