Today marks one week since a suspected gas explosion killed a four-year-old girl in Thornton Heath.

Sahara Salman’s body was recovered from the ruins of a terraced house on Galpin’s Road, which collapsed after the explosion and fire.

Emergency Services were first called to the home at around 7am last Monday (August 8).

Three other people were seriously injured in the blast, including an 11-year-old boy and a 54-year-old woman.

A total of 500 people were evacuated from neighbouring houses on Galpin’s Road while work continues to be carried out by Southern Gas Network.

At a community meeting in South Lodge Avenue, residents said that at least 18 calls were made from Galpin’s Road to gas firm SGN about the smell of gas in the days and weeks leading up to the explosion.

Sahara’s mother, Sana Ahmad, has accused utility firm SGN of “negligence” by failing to act on the complaints about the smell of gas.

Galpin’s Road residents still unable to return to their homes

PA has reported that on Friday (August 12) morning, Merton Council told more than 500 evacuees they could return home, after Southern Gas Networks (SGN) declared the area “gas safe” – meaning there were no residual fumes.

However, at around 6.30pm on Friday evening, SGN said that the leak was not sealed and that it was not safe for residents to return home.

This continues to be the ongoing situation.

Southern Gas Networks said in a statement to the council on Saturday: “SGN teams have been working very hard at Galpin’s Road to get you back into your homes.

“However, we’re really sorry to inform you that it’s taking longer than we expected due to technical difficulties on-site.

“Our aim is to get you in safely as soon as we possibly can.

“Regrettably, it now won’t be this weekend, but we can assure you that we’re working flat-out to get you home.

“Our top priority is your safety.

“We are keeping in close contact with Merton Council and will update you as soon as work is complete and we can get you home.”

Merton council opens evacuation centre

Council officers, police and community partners are continuing to provide support to evacuated residents at New Horizon Centre in Pollards Hill.

The centre is providing food, cash payments for essential goods, medical support and emotional support for everybody impacted by last week’s incident.

All affected residents are in fully paid-for accommodation, with SGN also paying for some of the fees according to Merton Council.

In a letter that Merton Council sent to residents on Sunday, seen by PA, they said: “We are continuing to support more than 500 residents from 200 properties on Galpin’s Road while SGN work on-site to fix the gas issue.

“We have collected and are caring for all pets who we have been notified about, and they are all in loving temporary homes until you can collect them and go home.

“We have started to go in and collect your bins, so that when you go home it is clean.

“We will also be providing cleaners to help you at home when you go back.”

The letter also told residents they could access “meals, cash support and medical services” at the New Horizon Centre until 4pm each day.

Merton council has also set up a helpline number for residents affected: 020 8545 4400.

A criminal investigation has been launched

The Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime Command has launched a criminal investigation into the blast.

Witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to call the police incident room on 02087858244 quoting reference number CAD 1773/08AUG.

Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin of the Met’s Specialist Crime said: “On behalf of the Metropolitan Police I would like to express my sincere condolences to all the family and friends of Sahara.

“This is a heart-breaking time for Sahara’s family, but I also fully understand how much distress this has caused the wider community.

“People will want to know how such terrible thing has happened and everyone involved in the investigation is determined to provide those answers.

"We are working closely with the Health and Safety Executive and our investigation is being full support by partners and local officers.

“My thoughts are also with those who remain in hospital, their families and all those affected.

“I know how much people will want to help, so please, if you have information and have not already spoken to officers, contact us.”