'Our world has been torn apart': Heartbroken mum pays tribute to daughter, 4, killed in Thornton Heath gas blast

10 August 2022, 12:26 | Updated: 10 August 2022, 13:34

Four-year-old Sahara was killed in the blast
Four-year-old Sahara was killed in the blast. Picture: Social media/Alamy

By Will Taylor

The mother of the four-year-old girl who was killed in a gas explosion in Thornton Heath has described the horrifying moment her house was destroyed – and heartbreak and losing her "pride and joy".

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Sahara Salman was killed - weeks before her fifth birthday - and three others were injured as the terraced home was reduced to rubble in South London.

Mother Sana Ahmad, 28, said her "world has been torn apart" and she is now scared of ceilings collapsing on her as she took aim at her gas supplier.

She said she was on the phone to her mother early on Monday when the explosion happened.

She was with two children while Sahara was in the house's box room, with another child in a room toward the garden when she heard a "big bang".

"I had two children in my room and then Sahara in the box room, and my eldest in the room towards the garden. My room is the one facing the main road," she told the Evening Standard.

"My instinct was to grab all my children but as I'd gone to the hallway Sahara's room had collapsed already. There was no sign of me even getting to her.

Sahara Salman was killed in the Thornton Heath blast
Sahara Salman was killed in the Thornton Heath blast. Picture: Handout

"The explosion was so bad that it almost fell like missiles were dropped on the properties. That's how quickly the building started to fall down."

Ms Ahmad said her father and uncle broke down the door to pull her and the children out.

But little Sahara had been killed in a tragedy that has traumatised a community.

Read more: Child killed and three in hospital after house collapses in huge south London gas explosion

"She died a month before her fifth 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."

Saying that she was now scared the ceiling would come down on her when she is indoors, she added: "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."

The blast destroyed the house
The blast destroyed the house. Picture: Social media

Ms Ahmad said she had smelled gas on July 30 and she called Southern Gas Networks (SGN) who sent someone the next day, but she was told there were no major issues.

"He said that he would send another guy who was higher up than him to inspect the property because he wasn't totally sure," she said.

"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.

Read more: Fears of a new gas leak in Thornton Heath as police double cordon around collapsed house

"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."

A spokesperson for SGN said on Monday: "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."