Page last updated at 00:25 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 01:25 UK

Body removed from explosion site

The collapsed houses in South Harrow
About 40 people have been left homeless

The body of a man killed in an explosion which ripped through three homes in north-west London has been removed from the rubble.

A second man and a teenage girl were hurt in the blast in Stanley Road, South Harrow, on Wednesday night.

Murder police are investigating whether the fatal explosion was detonated deliberately but said the cause had "yet to be established".

The debris had to be stabilised before the unidentified man's body was moved.

A police spokesman said: "Following a search of the premises the body of a man was discovered amongst the rubble.

"He was removed from the scene by London Fire Brigade at 9.05pm."

A 26-year-old man suffered serious head injuries and a 17-year-old girl suffered severe burns in the explosion, which completely destroyed two houses and seriously damaged a third in the Victorian terrace.

The English spirit certainly came through... we saw some good old-fashioned heroism
Chris Mote, Harrow Council

Emergency services were initially called after a suspected gas explosion was reported but engineers could find no faults with the mains supply.

Police said: "The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, however it is being treated as suspicious at this early stage."

About 40 people who live in Stanley Road have been taken to temporary accommodation as recovery work continues.

Chris Mote, of Harrow Council, said the road may not reopen for five or six days.

He said: "Whatever way you look at it, it's a tragedy. It makes it all the more poignant when someone is killed.

"All the response services have worked very well together and we've managed to look after everybody who's needed it."

"The English spirit certainly came through... everybody was helping each other out when help was needed and we saw some good old-fashioned heroism."

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Neighbour Paul Redmond recalls the incident

Gareth Thomas, Labour MP for Harrow West, said: "Police quite sensibly are ruling nothing in and nothing out.

"Police have an idea as to who owns the buildings and who was in them at the time."

The sound of the explosion could be heard in Northwood, more than five miles away.

Neighbours dug through the rubble to help find the injured.

Recounting how he spotted the injured teenager, Andrew Haynes, 44, said: "There was a girl's arm just poking through the rubble and there was a beam on her.

"It looked like the ceiling had fallen on her and she was entombed in there.

"It took us about 15 minutes to get to her."

A National Grid spokeswoman said: "We found no trace of a gas leak in our system but we will continue to have a very small presence on site."




SEE ALSO
Man dies in suspected gas blast
08 May 08 |  London

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