Merton Council has opened an evacuation centre after declaring a ‘major incident’
London Ambulance Service said three people were being treated in hospital following the explosion but a child was pronounced dead at the scene.
“This morning, alongside colleagues from LondonFire, we attended an incident in Thornton Heath,” the Ambulance Service said.
“We treated four people. One was discharged and three others were taken to hospital. Dessverre, a child was also pronounced dead at the scene.
“All LAS crews have now been stood down.”
Richard Welch, London Fire Brigade deputy assistant said earlier that a search was underway to find a missing person while a member of Merton Council at the scene also told the PA news agency he believed a four-year-old girl was trapped in the rubble.
Two neighbours – Kutoya Kukanda, 50, and Delroy Simms, 62 – said they helped rescue three children from the rubble on Gaplin’s Road at around 7am.
Several residents also raised concerns for a woman living in the house next door, which was damaged by the blast, after her husband was seen searching for her.
Dozens of residents gathered beside a police cordon on the end of the street hours later said they believed a woman and four children had lived in the collapsed house.
Many also said they reported a strong gas smell in the area which had persisted for around two weeks.
Residents said gas engineers had been working on the street but had not been seen for a few days.
Galpin’s Road residents Delroy Simms, 62, and Kutoya Kukanda, 50, have been called “heroes” after they rescued three children from the house moments after the blast.
Mr Simms, dressed in his pyjamas by the cordon, told PA: “I was getting ready to go to work when I heard the explosion.
“I already knew what it was because that gas was smelling all week, really strong. It was giving me a headache yesterday. My neighbour has been calling them (gas engineers) all week.”
“When I heard the explosion it was like an earthquake," han sa.
“It shook me up, and my house. The shutters on our windows blew off their hinges.
“I went to the window and saw the devastation.”
Mr Simms said that Mr Kukanda passed children out to him as bricks were still falling from the structure.
Merton Council confirmed in a statement was caused by a gas explosion.
Det sto: “Emergency services are on site following a gas explosion at a residential property, at least one property has been destroyed. We are urging people to avoid the area.
“Firefighters are currently carrying out systematic searches and working to make the scene safe.
“An evacuation centre has been established at the New Horizons Centre.”
In a press conference on Monday afternoon the LFB said the cause of the explosion is unknown. A spokesperson added that the incident will be investigated by the police.
Mr Simms’ kone, Elene, demanded to know why the gas board were not at the scene in south London. Their son, Tristan Simms, had been visiting his parents’ home for his 31st birthday celebrations on Sunday.
Han fortalte PA the explosion felt like “an earthquake” and in the days before the gas smell had been so strong that “you could taste it”.
“We looked out of the window, and the house opposite had just gone – just rubble and debris," han sa.