Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 18:39 UK

Blast house mystery liquid attack

The collapsed houses in South Harrow
About 40 people had to be evacuated from their homes

A London house at the centre of an explosion which left one man dead was targeted by vandals hours earlier, police said.

Officers were initially called after reports of a gas explosion in Stanley Road, South Harrow, on Wednesday night.

A purple liquid was poured through the letterbox of house about 10 hours before, which police say "may well be" linked to the blast.

A girl aged 17 was probably the target of the attack, detectives believe.

The dead man has been identified as 26-year-old businessman Emmad Qureshi.

Two others were injured in the explosion, a teenage girl, who suffered serious burns, and a 26-year-old man. Both remain in hospital.

Gas explosion 'unlikely'

Two houses were completely destroyed and a third house was affected as a result of the blast, which detectives say is being treated as suspicious.

Officers now believe the explosion occurred at house number 21, where the girl lived. The mysterious liquid was poured through the house's letterbox, police said.

Mr Qureshi lived next door at number 23 and the injured man was visiting him.

Det Ch Insp Colin Sutton said: "We still haven't ruled out a gas explosion but experts say it is unlikely to be the cause."

The morning of the explosion, a local resident had complained about a gang of teenage girls gathered outside the house.

Gas blast scene - picture by Anita Aldridge
Nearly 40 people have been moved to temporary accommodation

Mr Sutton said detectives were looking into the complaint along with the letterbox incident.

"It was a liquid substance and it was purple in colour.

"A strong line of inquiry for us at the moment is the dispute, this call at the address and of course the substance put through the letterbox.

"There may well be a connection between this liquid and the cause of the explosion that happened."

He said the disturbance was reported on Wednesday morning and the liquid was poured between 0900 BST and 1100 BST.

'Targeted attack'

He added the liquid was not reported to them until after the blast and that experts are yet to determine what it was.

The injured girl probably knew the teenagers who caused the disturbance, Mr Sutton said.

"They are obviously people she knows, who were there to do her some harm... it (the attack) was targeted."

Mr Qureshi's body was removed from the scene by London Fire Brigade on Thursday night.

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

Harrow Council said the road may not reopen for five or six days.

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

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Police want to track down some teenagers, and identify a mystery purple liquid poured through a letterbox.




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

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