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South-East London community devastated by death of Tamil family in fire

The South-East London Community of Bexleyheath has been devastated by the tragic deaths of a Tamil family of four in a house fire.

Yogan Thangavadivel, the father, rushed home after receiving a phone call from his wife, Niruba, in which she screamed "fire, fire". He arrived too late and witnessed the fire crew working to retrieve the bodies of his relatives. He was seen crying and collapsing on the ground outside of his home. 

Killed in the fire were Niruba, her mother, and her two children, one-year-old daughter Shasna, and four-year-old son Thabish. His brother-in-law managed to escape by jumping out from the top floor and breaking his legs. His brother-in-law remains in hospital. 

Speaking to neighbours, reporters noted that a faulty fire alarm may have led to the fire which started downstairs in the semi-detached house. Neighbours and well-wishers lay flowers at the home and told reports, "My heart aches for this loss of precious life to your family".

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson detailed that the fire brigade was called at 8.30 and  extinguished the fire at approximately 9.45 pm.

"This is a truly terrible incident which is both sad and shocking," London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe told reporters.

Six bouquets of flowers were left at the entrance to the road by family, neighbours, and police. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry, head of policing for Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich further said: 

"Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased, who have suffered such an awful and devastating loss [...] We have officers in the location and I know these sentiments are shared by residents across the Bexley and London as a whole".

Bexleyheath and Crayford MP Sir David Evennett tweeted: 'Shocked and saddened by the tragic house fire in Bexleyheath. Our condolences and thoughts are with the family and friends.'

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

'I am heartbroken to hear that two women and two children tragically lost their lives in a house fire in Bexleyheath last night. My heart goes out to their loved ones and the local community at this awful time.'

Detective Chief Superintendent further stated:

'Our inquiries are ongoing and we will continue to work with our colleagues in the London Fire Brigade to fully understand the cause of this terrible incident. In these very early stages we don't believe the cause of the fire is suspicious.'

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