Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton house gas blast: Dad talks 'miracle' survival

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Media captionJay Sabanal: "Daddy, can you help me? That's all I could hear"

A father has said it was a "miracle" he and his four-year-old daughter survived a gas explosion that destroyed their home.

Jay Sabanal, 36, and his daughter, Bella, were asleep when the blast happened at their end-of-terrace house in Shirley, Southampton, at 01:30 GMT.

He told BBC News: "It is really a miracle, maybe a guardian angel."

The pair, rescued by neighbours in Howards Grove, escaped with cuts and bruises.

They were taken to Southampton General Hospital and later discharged.

'Very loud' explosion

Mr Sabanal said: "We were asleep and then all I heard was an explosion.

"I thought it was a dream at first and then I heard my daughter screaming, shouting for me. 'Daddy can you help me' is all I can hear from her."

Bella said: "We just went to sleep but the explosion was very loud when I just woke up.

"Our Christmas tree is broken."

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

She said: "I don't care about the house, because the house can be replaced, but my family won't be replaced. Bella is my only child."

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was a suspected gas explosion.

Steve Buchanan-Lee, station manager, 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.

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.

Satvir Kaur, Southampton City Council's cabinet member for communities, said emergency shelter had been provided to evacuated residents.

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