Thornton Heath explosion: Merton Council leader hits out at insurance companies for not supporting residents

More than 200 residents have been evacuated from their homes and road closures will remain in place until engineers ascertain the area is safe.

The leader of Merton Council has hit out at insurance companies for not supporting displaced residents following a deadly explosion in Thornton Heath.

Damage to homes caused by suspected gas explosion that demolished a home yesterday killing a four-year-old girl in Thornton Heath. Credit: SWNS

Residents are being supported at New Horizon Community Centre in South Lodge Avenue and volunteers at Ascension Church in Sherwood Park Road are providing emergency clothes and shoes for anyone who has been evacuated.

However, Cllr Ross Garrod has said that while emergency services and the community have stepped up to the plate, some insurance companies have let down Merton residents.

“Following the tragic incident on Monday on Galpins Road which saw the death of a four year old child and two other people being cared for in hospital, the council has worked tirelessly to rehouse hundreds of households and residents,” said Cllr Garrod.

“While emergency services and the community have stepped up to the plate, some insurance companies have let down Merton residents.

“Numerous people have informed me that their insurers are refusing to support them.

Sahara Salman, 4, was killed when her house on Galpins Road was demolished during the blast on Monday morning at around 7am. Credit: GoFundMe

“These companies are telling people in their moment of greatest need that they will not receive any financial assistance.

“Or else insurers are demanding eye-watering excess fees before residents are receiving any coverage.

“I’m almost lost for words that during a crisis of national interest and in the midst of a community mourning the loss of a child any reputable company would seek to maximise profits by withholding coverage.

“I would like to reassure residents that the council is doing everything within its power to force these companies to honour their arrangements in these exceptional circumstances and to say that I’m writing to the government with my concerns.

“I’m calling on insurers to fulfil their moral obligation and support our affected residents and if they fail to do so I will call them out.”

Police and Health and Safety Executive officials are investigating the gas explosion in Thornton Heath which killed little Sahara Salman. Credit: SWNS

Little Sahara Salman, four, was killed in the blast, and two other people are still in hospital.

Det Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin of the Met’s Specialist Crime, said: "We are working closely with the Health and Safety Executive and our investigation is being full supported 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.”

A spokesperson for Southern Gas Networks - which supplies gas in the area - told LondonWorld: “Following the explosion in Galpins Road, Thornton Heath, on Monday, our thoughts remain with the family of the child who has tragically died as well as those who have been injured.

“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.”