Monday 23 October 2017

Police say deaths of three children in blast suspicious

Dean Grey in Edinburgh

The deaths of three young children in an explosion are being treated as suspicious, police in Edinburgh said last night.

The primary schoolchildren were found after a blast in a block of flats in Edinburgh's Slateford Road at around 3pm.

It was thought the children -- two boys and a girl -- may have died in a gas explosion but last night Lothian and Borders Police said there was no fault with the supply.

A police spokesman said: "A criminal investigation is currently under way and nothing more can be said at this time into the circumstances which led to their deaths."

A woman, believed to be the children's mother, is being treated in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

A police source was unable to confirm reports that the chil dren had died before the blast but said efforts to track down their father were continuing.

The post-mortem examinations are expected to take place today.

Neighbours said the mother had jumped from the third-floor balcony of the modern terrace block. They described hearing the noise of a blast and the smell of gas.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue also extinguished what was described as a "small fire" on the first floor of the building.

Neighbour Fattah Hamami said: "I think she dropped herself from the third-floor balcony."

Omar Barifah said: "I came outside and she was covered up. I've been told by neighbours she jumped.

"I'm very sorry. It's a very sad thing to happen."

Moe Harbi said he smelt gas at about 1am yesterday. The chemical engineering student said: "I thought it was from my flat though I checked the kitchen and the oven and then I slept. I didn't think it was from my neighbours."

Mr Hamami was sleeping when the explosion occurred. He said: "There was a big bang and it shook me awake. Suddenly the police were there and the keeper opened the door for the police. I could smell gas before it happened. It was very strong."

Post-mortem examinations are due to be carried out on the three children and police said no details about their identities would be released until these were completed.

Scotland Gas Networks sent engineers to the scene but said the explosion did not involve its network.

Irish Independent

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