Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton house gas blast: Community comes to family's aid

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

Community groups have been rallying to help a family who survived a gas explosion that destroyed their home.

Jay Sabanal and his daughter, Bella, four, were asleep when the blast happened at their house in Shirley, Southampton, on Tuesday at 01:30 GMT.

Firefighters said it was a "miracle" they survived the explosion.

The Salvation Army and the Filipino Association of Southampton have been raising funds and collecting clothes and toys for the family.

Alvin Agbay, president of the association, said the family had attended gatherings and parties held by the group.

He said: "Everyone from the Filipino community wanted to help and do what they could.

"It was a really horrific incident for them. But when I spoke to Liberty she was really happy. She said all the things she has lost, it's nothing.

"Most important is that her husband and daughter are alive."

Major Teresa Harris, minister of the Salvation Army in Shirley, visited the scene in the wake of the explosion to provide soup and warm drinks to emergency service workers and neighbours who were left without electricity.

Image copyright PA

She said: "I know it's been said, but I don't know how they got out alive. When you see it, you just can't imagine what it must have been like.

"The response has been amazing. When we came in this morning we had 10 to 12 calls and they were all, with the exception of one, from people who wanted to donate."

She added lots of clothes and toys had been given and encouraged donations to the parents.

A spokeswoman from gas company SGN said senior engineers were at the site trying to find out what happened.

"We need to conduct our investigation carefully, and this will take time, however we will be doing our very best to establish the facts as quickly as we can.

"We'd like to acknowledge that it has been a very difficult 36 hours for the family involved. We are continuing to support them every way we can. Thankfully these sorts of incidents are rare."

She added, of the four other properties evacuated after the explosion, three had been reoccupied.

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