The heartbroken mother of a four-year-old girl killed in Monday’s explosion is demanding answers from the gas supplier who she has accused of ‘negligence’.
Sahara Salman, described as her family’s ‘pride and joy’, died just a month shy of her fifth birthday.
Speaking to The Evening Standard her mother Sana Ahmad, 28, who was rescued along with her three other children by her dad and uncle after they broke down the door to free them, said her “world has been torn apart” as she paid tribute to her “incredible little girl”.
Emergency services had desperately searched the collapsed building hoping to find the little girl alive but she was declared dead at the scene of the blast which demolished the family’s terrace home in Galpin’s Road, Thornton Heath, just before 7am.
Ms Ahmad, claimed to have contacted Southern Gas Networks (SGN) about the suspected leak on July 30 adding: “My mum identified the smell on the 30th of July. The first call we made to them was on the same day at 3.57pm.”
On the day of Ms Ahmad’s complaint SGN was granted a permit by Merton Council to carry out ‘non specific repairs and maintenance work’ on Galpin’s Road.
Near to the houses worst affected in the blast, amongst the debris it could clearly be seen that a utility company had cordoned off an area with orange barriers and was carrying out works.
Yesterday, the cordon around the blast site was extended by 200 metres at the request of the Health and Safety Executive – after it detected elevated gas readings in the area.
Eyewitnesses spoken to by The Chronicle on Monday said they had complained about a ‘strong gas smell’ in the days before the blast and that works had been taking place for weeks.
Ms Ahmad said SGN sent someone to investigate the leak the following day of her but she was told there were no major issues.
She said: “He said that he would send another guy who was higher up than him to inspect the property because he wasn’t totally sure. Unfortunately that other guy never did show up. The work wasn’t fully carried out. …They did tell us there were loads of little gas leaks – they said that pipes had been leaking but that they were minor leaks.”
“The saddest thing is that we tried to prevent this from happening. The gas people should have ensured the safety of not only us but every single person who lives in that area.
“Now we’re all suffering – the whole community. And now we all have to live with the trauma of a little girl dying.”
She added: “She died a month before her 5th birthday and we had so many plans in place. She was starting school in September – her uniform was bought, it was in the house and all of this could have been prevented if people weren’t being lazy and did their job properly. That’s the fact of the matter.”
She hailed her daughter as “the most incredible little girl”, adding: “The world is so cruel. We have lost our daughter who is our pride and our joy.
“This world didn’t deserve somebody who was so special. It’s our loss. She was the most amazing thing to ever walk this planet.”
Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhan McDonagh, this week said she has written to gas firm SGN demanding answers.
She said: “This should never have happened, we will get to the bottom of it.”
On Monday a spokeswoman for SGN, which is the gas emergency service in the area, said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family of the child who has tragically died as well as those injured.
“We’d like to reassure everyone our engineers are working closely with the emergency services. Given the ongoing police investigation, it is inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.”
The Chronicle contacted SGN for a comment on Monday.