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Race against time to rescue ‘girl trapped inside’ house reduced to rubble in massive gas explosion

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Emergency services are searching for a four-year-old girl believed to be trapped after a terraced house collapsed following a huge gas explosion and fire in south London this morning.

Neighbours said it sounded ‘like a bomb had gone off’ on Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, near Croydon, just after 7am this morning, as 40 firefighters and six fire engines quickly rushed to the scene.

Three people have been hospitalised with potentially life-threatening injuries and the fire brigade confirmed their urban search and rescue crews are searching for one more missing person.

Merton Council has declared a major incident and confirmed it was a gas explosion.

Utility repair and maintenance works were being carried out on the road by Southern Gas Networks, who have been contacted by Mail Online for a comment.

Two neighbours, Kutoya Kukanda, 50, and Delroy Simms, 62, who have been called have been called ‘heroes’ for rescuing three children from the rubble at around 7am, said they feared a young girl was still trapped inside.

Mr Simms, dressed in his pyjamas by the cordon, said the explosion was like an earthquake and knew what it was because ‘that gas was smelling all week, really strong’.

He said that Mr Kukanda passed children out to him as bricks were still falling from the structure.

Videos and pictures shows the house completely reduced to rubble, planks of wood strewn about, and neighbours standing shocked outside in their dressing gowns.

Surrounding properties and vehicles are seriously damaged with tiles and bricks from the destroyed housing laying on top of them.

Around 40 properties have been evacuated as a precaution and a 50-metre cordon is in place. 

One man was treated for burn injuries at the scene and witnesses said other people including a child were stretchered away, Thornton Heath Chronicle reported.

A young girl was also seen stood outside with a blanket being treated for burns, as three people are currently in hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said four people have been rescued and are asking people to avoid the area.

The fire brigade are searching for one missing person after a house collapsed following a huge explosion this morning in Croydon, south London

The fire brigade are searching for one missing person after a house collapsed following a huge explosion this morning in Croydon, south London

The blast tore a huge hole in the wall of a neighbouring home, causing serious damage to what appears to be a child's bedroom

The blast tore a huge hole in the wall of a neighbouring home, causing serious damage to what appears to be a child’s bedroom

Following a fire and explosion, approximately 40 firefighters rushed to the scene of a house collapse in Thornton Heath

Following a fire and explosion, approximately 40 firefighters rushed to the scene of a house collapse in Thornton Heath

Residents thought a 'bomb had gone off' when the blast happened around 7am this morning

Residents thought a ‘bomb had gone off’ when the blast happened around 7am this morning

Neighbours on the road believe a girl aged around four or five is still trapped inside (pictured: Urban Search and Rescue team at the scene in Galpin's Road)

Neighbours on the road believe a girl aged around four or five is still trapped inside (pictured: Urban Search and Rescue team at the scene in Galpin’s Road)

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London Fire Brigade confirmed one person was missing and being searched for

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London Fire Brigade confirmed one person was missing and being searched for

Emergency services remain at the scene of the completely destroyed house in Croydon, so far London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued

Emergency services remain at the scene of the completely destroyed house in Croydon, so far London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued

The house was destroyed in the huge explosion which is believed to have been caused by a gas leak

The house was destroyed in the huge explosion which is believed to have been caused by a gas leak

The house explosion took place in Thornton Heath, Croydon around 7am this morning

The house explosion took place in Thornton Heath, Croydon around 7am this morning

Emergency services at the scene in Galpin's Road in Thornton Heath, south London, with the collapsed house in the background

Emergency services at the scene in Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath, south London, with the collapsed house in the background

On the road where properties sell for around £430,000, the explosion launched a mass of rubble which seriously damaged houses either side of the blast and across the road.

Neighbours said they had reported a strong gas smell two weeks ago and others said they had been feeling dizzy and sick over the last two days.

One person said they were still able to smell gas after the blast which shattered windows and severely damaged neighbouring properties as other houses in the area were also evacuated.

Residents on the street told The Sun gasworks had been taking place for ‘four weeks’ there is no suggestion the works have any link to the blast at this stage.

A mother was crying in the street for her son as his bedroom was opposite the completely destroyed house, said one local.

The 25-year-old woman told MyLondon: ‘His mum was out on the street crying ‘My boy, my boy’.

‘They took him to hospital and we’ve heard since that he’s ok.’

She added that a ‘little girl’ and her dad escaped the destroyed house, and that the mum was rescued afterwards.

One resident, who lives on nearby Carisbrooke Road, said: ‘I heard the explosion at 7am, it was just the biggest bang you’ll ever hear.

‘So I went down the road to see what happened this morning and the whole house is gone, people living nearby said all their windows shook.

‘There was police, fire engines, a helicopter going around overhead. There’s not actually a fire from what I saw but you can still really smell gas, even two roads away where I am. They’re evacuating people from the houses nearby as they’re worried about another explosion.

‘There was a little girl of about 10 or 11 stood outside with a blanket bless her, god knows how she got out of that but she’s being treated for burns.

‘They were saying her older brother was still inside but he later got taken out OK I think.’

Dominic Francis, 41, and his partner heard a loud bang this morning, he said: ‘It is the third or fourth house explosion in the UK recently.

‘Something is wrong, I am worried it will happen to us.’

One Facebook user said: ‘I heard it whilst getting ready for work and thought it sounded like an explosion but was hoping I was wrong and that it was at a building site or something.’

Another added: ‘That was one loud bang thought a bomb had gone off’.

The house, pictured several years before the blast, was completely destroyed with neighbouring properties also badly damaged sparking the evacuation of 40 people

The house, pictured several years before the blast, was completely destroyed with neighbouring properties also badly damaged sparking the evacuation of 40 people

London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued from the scene (pictured)

London Fire Brigade say four people have been rescued from the scene (pictured)

Around forty firefighters attended the scene and the surrounding area was evacuated after the explosion

Around forty firefighters attended the scene and the surrounding area was evacuated after the explosion

Nearby properties on Galpin's Road (pictured) have been damaged and four people have been rescued

Nearby properties on Galpin’s Road (pictured) have been damaged and four people have been rescued 

Police have evacuated and cordoned off the surrounding area following the explosion

Police have evacuated and cordoned off the surrounding area following the explosion

At this time, the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown, but a nearby resident said they could smell gas

At this time, the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown, but a nearby resident said they could smell gas

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: ‘We have treated four patients at an incident in Galpins Road, Thornton heath. One was discharged on scene and three others were taken to hospital.

‘We remain on scene with our emergency service colleagues.’ 

Merton council said in a statement: ‘We are working with London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police following a major incident at Galpins Road in Pollards Hill.

‘Emergency services are on site following a gas explosion at a residential property, at least one property has been destroyed. We are urging people to avoid the area.

‘Firefighters are currently carrying out systematic searches and working to make the scene safe.

‘An evacuation centre has been established at the New Horizons Centre.’

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said in a statement: ‘Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters have been called to a fire and explosion on Galpin’s Road in Thornton Heath.

‘A terraced house has collapsed following an explosion.

‘The Brigade’s 999 Control Officers have taken 13 calls to the incident.

‘The Brigade was called at 0708. Fire crews from Norbury, Mitcham, West Norwood, Woodside and surrounding fire stations attended the scene.

‘The cause of the fire and explosion is not known at this time.’

The Metropolitan Police confirmed officers are at the scene. A statement on Twitter said: ‘Officers are at the scene in Galpin’s Road as part of the emergency services response to this incident. Please follow @LondonFire for updates.’

London Ambulance Service said it is also responding to the incident.

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How to create a reading nook for children in your home

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Nooks to inspire a love of books: It’s easy to create a space for little ones to pick up a page-turner

  • Every child should have somewhere to fall into a book at home 
  • The ideal kids’ reading nook requires three things: comfort, secrecy, and storage 

Children’s books should be enjoyed in private. They should be read under the covers by torchlight after the grown-ups think you’ve gone to sleep; or hidden in treehouses with a supply of chocolate biscuits – anywhere where monsters, pirates and school chums can climb through the window.

Every child should have somewhere to fall into a book. A book nook, if you will. And it doesn’t take a lot of effort to create one. 

As children’s book author and critic Imogen Russell Williams says: ‘The ideal kids’ reading nook requires three things: comfort, secrecy, and convenient storage for an array of books and snacks.

Reading space: A simple small chaise longue can create a comfortable spot for young ones to enjoy books

Reading space: A simple small chaise longue can create a comfortable spot for young ones to enjoy books

‘Enclosed, cosy and full of soft, warm light, the best reading dens provide the perfect launchpad for a child’s imagination.’

Here are some suggestions.

Swathed in cotton

You can go Princess And The Pea by curtaining off a little cranny with a swirling, regal canopy from The Handmade Scandi Company. These come in pink, white, lavender or ‘cloud’ and cost £56.

For added twinkle, string fairy lights around and switch off the main light. Hey presto: stars in a night sky.

Looking for a canopy in bolder colours? The Rainforest Reading Corner Canopy from TTS Group will brighten up the reading corner (£71.99).

Inhabit an alcove

Find an existing little cranny and put it to good use. Throw in a few cushions, put up some bookshelves and string a curtain across so the mini-reader can shut him or herself away. 

The Kura bed curtain from Ikea comes with windows so your offspring can pop their head out from time to time (£25).

In their own world: Clambering into a tepee in the corner of the bedroom feels like an adventure in itself

In their own world: Clambering into a tepee in the corner of the bedroom feels like an adventure in itself

Reading tent

Clambering into a tepee in the corner of the bedroom feels like an adventure in itself. And the little reader can fall asleep among the pages. 

Argos sells a lovely bear-themed tepee made by Chad for £40. Or if you want to build a tepee together, just six bamboo poles and bedsheets held in place with clothes pegs will do the trick.

Build it

Natural light is great, especially for picture books. If you have a big window and can construct some seating around it, it makes a fab place to read of derring-do while staring out to imagine the action. If the window isn’t low down, a ladder up to the seat will add to the fun.

What goes inside

Make furniture comfy and a bit flexible. Your offspring may want to read sitting up or lying down, so some kind of small chaise longue should work well. 

The Handmade Sofa Company’s child-size chaise range is from £425. 

Or if you prefer something that looks like a miniature armchair and pouffe, John Lewis’s £72 Stardust bean bag chair and footstool will look stylish.

Add a desk, and encourage the child to respond to the book — writing their own sequel starring themselves. Ikea’s Micke costs £50.

To kit it all out in matching style, The Great Little Trading Company has a series of themed book storage boxes, display racks, rugs and bean bags. 

Or, if space is limited, you can buy ready-made seat/storage combos, such as the Children’s Bookcase from Little Helper for £97.

Savings of the week! Throws 

Snug: Oliver Bonas's Ena Blue Hand Woven Throw is reduced from £45 to £27

Snug: Oliver Bonas’s Ena Blue Hand Woven Throw is reduced from £45 to £27

You can call a throw a rug or a blanket — which takes its name from a weave first made by Thomas Blanket (Blanquette), a Flemish weaver who lived in Bristol in the 14th century.

But, whichever you choose, you are sure to be snug in bed, or on your sofa if you select one of the reduced price options in cosy fabrics.

The Cotswold Company has a moss grey, chunky-knit blanket reduced from £55 to £40. 

Wayfair’s wide range includes the Christy Oslo throw in the same chunky grey knit, down from £80 to £66.99. 

Made.com has a faux fur throw in a rich cinnamon shade down from £62 to £40. Oliver Bonas’s Ena Blue Hand Woven Throw is also reduced from £45 to £27, a cut of 40 per cent. 

Faux fur is set to be hugely popular this winter. But if you don’t feel the cold, but want to add colour to a room, Habitat’s Paloma knitted cotton throw comes in cobalt blue and saffron yellow. Its price is £17.50, a saving of £20 (argos.co.uk).

Anne Ashworth 

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DL Invest Group secures €123m financing for Polish logistics portfolio

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Macquarie Capital Principal Finance has provided €123.4m in the form of a senior secured loan to DL Invest Group. The three-year facility will be funded using capital from Macquarie’s balance sheet. The loan is secured against 10 modern logistics assets across Poland, comprising of 193,000m² constructed by DL Invest Group over the last 5 years and is fully let to major international companies.

 

Alexi Antolovich, Global Co-Head Real Estate, Macquarie Capital Principal Finance said: “This transaction demonstrates Macquarie’s ability to utilise its balance sheet to find capital solutions to support its clients, notwithstanding a challenging macroeconomic environment. This transaction involves a strong portfolio managed by an excellent team at DL Invest Group. We are pleased to support DL Invest Group’s continuous growth and believe this is the first transaction of a fruitful collaboration over the years to come.”

 

Dominik Leszczynski, CEO of DL Invest Group commented: “We are delighted to unlock capital for our next stage of growth as a tenant orientated developer and long-term investor-owner of assets. Macquarie was pragmatic throughout the process, in a period of heighted volatility for Polish capital markets. We worked together to create a bespoke transaction that allows DL Invest Group to continue its strong investing track record.”

 

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What will stamp duty changes mean for your house-moving plans?

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The headlines this week have centred on mortgage mayhem and interest rates — but there’s one piece of good news to consider.

Thousands of house buyers completing their purchases in the past seven days have already benefited from the stamp duty cut announced by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in his controversial mini-Budget, and property website Zoopla says 43 per cent of all homes on the market now attract no stamp duty at all.

The Government says the cut will help stimulate the flagging economy and there are some signs that it’s working.

Savings: Thousands of house buyers completing their purchases in the past seven days have already benefited from the stamp duty cut

Savings: Thousands of house buyers completing their purchases in the past seven days have already benefited from the stamp duty cut

Rightmove says visits to its house sales adverts soared 10 per cent just after the mini-Budget and the number of sales agreed on Tuesday this week was the highest in one day since early August.

The website says this week’s fall-throughs — the number of sales collapsing — are entirely in line with long-term averages.

So with all eyes on the housing market, here’s what’s changing and what’s not…

What are the new stamp duty rates?

There’s no tax on the first £250,000 of the property price — up from £125,000. Higher priced homes are unchanged, so buyers pay 5 per cent duty of the portion from £250,001 to £925,000, then 10 per cent from £925,001 to £1.5 million. You pay 12 per cent on the price above £1.5 million.

Are they the same for first-time buyers?

They pay no stamp duty on properties up to £425,000 (previously £300,000) and 5 per cent on purchases up to £625,000 (it used to be £500,000).

After this week’s furore, will the change be reversed?

Highly unlikely. The change kicked in as the Chancellor spoke on September 23, so thousands have already benefited. 

And Liz Truss doubled down on the cut ahead of this weekend’s Tory party conference, telling the BBC she is ‘very clear the Government has done the right thing’ by taking action ‘to deal with inflation, to deal with the economic slowdown and to deal with the high energy bills’.

What will we pay to move to a new £350,000 home?

Up to £250,000 you now pay no stamp duty — a saving of £2,500 thanks to the Chancellor’s new measure. 

On the portion from £250,001 and £350,000 you pay 5 per cent, which is £5,000. So that’s £5,000 stamp duty on the whole price instead of £7,500 — saving £2,500.

Will the cut send prices soaring?

Again, highly unlikely. First, £2,500 is a handy sum but not enough to convince people not already intending to buy.

Relief: Up to £250,000 you now pay no stamp duty - a saving of £2,500 thanks to the Chancellor¿s new measure

Relief: Up to £250,000 you now pay no stamp duty – a saving of £2,500 thanks to the Chancellor’s new measure

Second, it’s a permanent cut, not the temporary holiday we saw in the pandemic, so people don’t have to rush to buy immediately. 

And, third, there are many more homes on sale today than earlier this year, so demand isn’t far ahead of supply and price rises are moderating.

Could sellers put up their asking prices?

It’s possible — and some will — but this is unwise. With fears that interest rates could hit 6 per cent next year, buyers are very cost-sensitive right now. An unreasonable asking price will mean your home sits on the shelf for months.

Will the cut be wiped out by higher interest rates?

Forty per cent of mortgage deals have been withdrawn temporarily — most will return with higher costs. 

But, remember, government figures show 36 per cent of homes are owned outright with no mortgage. 

Of the rest, it’s estimated three-quarters are on fixed interest rates so won’t see an immediate rise in costs.

For buyers from these groups, the stamp duty saving is genuine and not lost in higher mortgage repayments.

I’m planning to downsize — is there any help for me?

Afraid not. Many housing experts want stamp duty to be tapered to incentivise older owners to move to smaller homes, freeing up bigger houses for families. 

But apart from the Chancellor’s blanket change in the threshold at which duty kicks in, there’s nothing customised for the retiring or older homeowner.

Is Kwasi boosting landlords and holiday home buyers?

With the cost of living crisis, these groups aren’t seen as a priority. So while they save up to £2,500 like everyone else, the 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-lets and weekend cottages introduced back in 2016 stays in place. 

And, this week, Labour hinted there might be further taxes on landlords if it wins power.

What’s going on in Wales and Scotland?

Wales’S stamp duty, called the Land Transaction Tax, changes on October 10, after which there will be no tax on homes under £225,000 — up from £180,000 — with small rises for homes over £345,000.

There’s no change to Scotland’s Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, but a budget north of the border on October 24 may change all that.

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