Two people have died after a suspected gas explosion at a shop underneath flats in west London.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) was called to the scene in King Street, Southall, on Wednesday morning and used specialist equipment including search dogs to look for people trapped inside the collapsed building.
Station commander Paul Morgan said: “We can confirm that sadly two people have died at the scene.
“It has been a painstaking and protracted incident with firefighters working systematically to stabilise the building and search for people involved.”
Jatinder Singh, whose shop Dr Phone was “totally destroyed” in the blast, said he was “in shock” because he had “lost everything”.
Mr Singh said: “I don’t know what happened. I was told I couldn’t go to the shop, but you can see from the pictures it’s totally destroyed.
“I don’t know how to explain how I’m feeling. I have lost everything.
“I don’t know what to say – I’m in shock. I’m really scared that now I don’t know how to survive.”
Residents said their homes “shook” with the blast which happened at around 6.30am on Wednesday.
Nurmila Hamid, 38, said she felt the explosion as she was getting her children ready for school.
She said: “The house shook, and I turned to my husband and said ‘what is that?’
“And he said ‘it’s a blast’ and he went to look after taking the children to school – he said it was at a phone shop.”
Mohammad Rafiq, 78, said he and his 76-year-old wife felt “shocked” and “scared” when the noise from the blast woke them.
“I heard it in the morning – it woke me up, it was scary,” said Mr Rafiq, who lives two streets away.
“It sounded like a very dangerous blast so I was scared. We didn’t sleep after that.”
Another neighbour said the explosion “shook the bones” of her house, and “sounded like a bomb had gone off”.
Earlier Mr Morgan said a child and four adults had been rescued in the initial stages, at the rear of the property, using a ladder, while a further 14 adults and two children self-evacuated from surrounding properties.
Pictures taken behind the property show debris jutting out of the building.
LFB was called just before 6.40am, and six fire engines and about 40 firefighters were at the scene.
Specialist urban search and rescue (USAR) crews are carrying out the operation.
A spokesman said the windows of the shop were “completely blown out” in the incident.
The Metropolitan Police said the incident is not being treated as suspicious and is believed to have been a gas explosion.
A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said crews had treated and discharged one person, and were continuing to work with other emergency services at the scene.