Hampshire & Isle of Wight

House in Southampton destroyed by 'gas explosion'

Debris of house destroyed in explosion
Image caption The house was completely destroyed in the explosion

A four-year-old girl and her father have been pulled alive from the rubble of a house hit by a suspected gas explosion in the early hours.

The blast completely destroyed the end-of-terrace house in the Shirley area of Southampton at about 01:30 GMT.

Neighbours in Howards Grove rescued 36-year-old Jay Sabanal and his daughter Bella.

They were taken to Southampton General Hospital but both have since been discharged.

Image caption Jay Sabanal and his daughter Bella were pulled from the rubble of their home by neighbours

Mr Sabanal's wife, Liberty, was at work at the time of the blast.

Stephen Kelsey, who was working nearby for BT, pulled Mr Sabanal from the rubble with the help of two colleagues and neighbours.

He told BBC Radio Solent: "We ran up around there and you could see the house had pretty much disintegrated and there were a lot of people just stood around.

"When we got close to the house, the little girl was sat on the wall out the front. We got closer and [could] see the fella was just stuck underneath a load of rubble.

"We were moving the rubble and there were a couple of neighbours as well. He was pinned down by what looked like the kitchen wall so we just had to dig him out and scoop him out."

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Media captionJay Sabanal and his daughter had a miraculous escape, firefighters said

Wesley Flood, a former ambulance technician who lives nearby, also helped rescue the man.

He said: "There was a little girl sitting on the railings so I picked her up and carried her away. We went back and the father was behind the wall, his knees touching his chin; he was curled up.

"I managed to haul him out and we took him where his daughter was and we waited for the ambulance.

"The kid was shocked, she was crying on and off from the shock of it all. They were lucky to be alive."

Steve Buchanan-Lee, station manager with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "It's quite a scene - the fact that the people who were inside the property had been rescued by local residents prior to our arrival is nothing short of a miracle."

Four other houses were evacuated and other properties had their windows blown out.

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA

Next-door neighbour Kevin Crook said the blast caused major damage at his own house.

"I was fast asleep in bed, there was a massive great bang and I couldn't believe what I saw," he told the BBC.

"I saw brick rubble all over the conservatory, the doors were all blown off, the big patio doors all blown off, the TV was over on its face, everything just crashed - it's like the house has had a great big shake. The walls are all done in.

"As I went to the front door, the toilet's all gone, that's all just rubble.

"I was concerned for next door but, to be honest, I didn't think they would have made it, but they have. It's unbelievable."

Firefighters worked to ensure there was no further collapse of the building.

An exclusion zone is in place while engineers from Southern Gas Networks (SGN) and Southampton City Council investigate the cause of the explosion.

A SGN spokesman said engineers had isolated the gas supply to the property and supplies to other properties were unaffected.

Image caption A bath can be seen in the pile of rubble from the end-terrace house

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