The incident occurred on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, at about 6:30 am local time in Southall, a suburban district located in west London. The explosion occurred on the ground floor of the building which accommodated a hair salon and mobile phone shop. The upper floors of the structure consisted of apartment flats.
The circumstances under which the blast occurred are still unknown. Nevertheless, there are unofficial reports that make mention of a potential gas leak. According to the Metropolitan Police, the incident will be investigated but it is not suspicious of being a terrorist attack.
The explosion caused significant structural damage to the building which collapsed sending debris into Southall’s King Street. The blast shook local residents and was felt to a distance more than 1,5 kilometers away from the building. Some locals mentioned being terrified. "I heard it in the morning - it woke me up, it was scary. It sounded like a very dangerous blast so I was scared," one stated.
The owner of the phone store found out about the disaster from a call. When asked about the conditions of the store, he mentioned that everything is destroyed and that things are very harsh right now. "I have lost everything. We were struggling from the coronavirus period as well - too much stock in the shop and no sales for a long time so I don't know how we will survive," he said.
London's fire and rescue service was mobilized and began a rescue operation for people potentially trapped under the rubble or inside the building. About 40 firefighters participated in the operation. Unfortunately, 2 people were found and confirmed dead. 5 survivors were rescued without suffering severe injuries. One of them was treated by an ambulance service and was later released.
14 local residents evacuated their houses that are adjacent to the impacted structure. Ealing London Borough Council turned the gas supply and the power off in the surrounding area for safety reasons. Officials stated that more people may need to temporarily evacuate their residences until the causes of the explosion are fully understood.
The total number of flats impacted by the explosion is unknown. The incident caused some traffic problems as certain streets were closed for a significant amount of time.
In December 2019, a blast caused by tumbler dryer failure resulted in a partial collapse of a house in Suffolk County, UK. One side of the building was completely destroyed but, fortunately, there were no casualties.
Footage from the scene can be found in the video below.