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Child dies in house explosion in south London

08 August

A child has died in a house explosion in Croydon, south London.

Four other people were rescued from the property, which collapsed after the blast.
London Ambulance Service tweeted: "This morning, alongside colleagues from London Fire we attended an incident in #ThorntonHeath. We treated four people. One was discharged and three others were taken to hospital.
"Sadly, a child was also pronounced dead at the scene. All LAS crews have now been stood down."
Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters were sent to the blaze in Galpin's Road, Thornton Heath, shortly after 7am on Monday.
Kutoya Kukanda, 50, and Delroy Simms, 62, who live nearby, said they helped rescue three children from the rubble.
Mr Kukanda told Sky News correspondent Madeline Ratcliffe at the scene that he was sleeping when he heard something that sounded like "a bomb".
He opened his window to find a cloud of "smoke" and heard "people screaming", so he ran outside in his shorts and saw the collapsed home.
"The people inside the house were screaming," he said, adding that "children were screaming and crying" and a woman was "shaking".
Forty properties were evacuated and dozens of residents gathered outside a 50-metre police cordon in their pyjamas.
Some said they had reported a strong gas smell two weeks ago, and others said they had been feeling dizzy and sick during the last two days.
One local resident told Sky News they heard a loud boom from several streets away which felt like "a storm" passing through the house and blew open doors.
Others said they were woken up by the noise. One man living down the road said the windows and the doors of his son's room were shaking after the explosion.
Mr Simms said that Mr Kukanda passed children out to him as bricks were still falling from the property.
"When I heard the explosion it was like an earthquake," he told the PA news agency.
"It shook me up, and my house. The shutters on our windows blew off their hinges.
"I went to the window and saw the devastation."
Amarjit Kaur said her windows shattered from the force of the explosion.
"I rang the police, there were dozens of people running down the street," she said.
Ms Kaur described the efforts of Mr Simms and Mr Kukanda as "heroic".
"That's human kindness, that two people risked their lives to go in without knowing the consequences themselves."
London Fire Brigade said it had taken 14 calls about the incident, and neighbouring properties were also damaged.
The cause of the fire and explosion is not yet known, it added.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police are also at the scene.
Steve Reed, MP for Croydon North, tweeted: "Heartbreaking news as the fire brigade confirm a child died in this morning's Galpins Road explosion in Merton - thoughts and prayers with the family and all the others who have been hurt."

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Gordon Brown 'seeing poverty I did not expect to see again' as he warns people will go hungry and co

08 August

People will have to go without food and be unable to heat their homes by October if the government doesn't take urgent action on the cost of living crisis, Gordon Brown has warned.

Speaking to Sky News, the former Labour prime minister said he was seeing poverty in his hometown in Fife "that I did not expect to see ever again in my lifetime", as he took aim at the Conservatives' policies.
Mr Brown branded the party's windfall tax as "stupid", claiming the opt-outs included in the tax brought forward when Rishi Sunak was chancellor reduced the value of the tax from £15bn to £5bn.
Politics Hub: Gordon Brown slams 'vacuum' at heart of government - live updates
Demanding further intervention from the government, he set out his own vision for dealing with the cost of living crisis, including changing the windfall tax, a cap on energy bills and reforming the benefits system.
But he ruled out his own return to frontline politics, telling Sky News: "When you're out, you're out."
Mr Brown said he is campaigning heavily on the cost of living crisis because he is seeing poverty in his hometown, Fife, "that I did not expect to see ever again in my lifetime".
He said charities are stocking up on duvets, sleeping bags, hot water bottles and blankets "because they know that people can't afford to heat their homes any more".
Meanwhile, faith groups are "thinking of opening their church halls as heating hubs so that pensioners, instead of freezing at home, can have a warm place to go to".
Mr Brown said: "There's no doubt that people are going to go without food, and they're going to go hungry and cold in October if we don't take action now."
He added: "If charities and organisations in the community are taking urgent action to do something, I think it's about time the government responded. The vacuum at the centre of government really has got to end."
'Financial time bomb' to explode in October - cost of living latest
'Obsession' with tax cuts won't help
The comments come after former chairman of the Conservative Party Oliver Dowden attacked Mr Brown's record as prime minister, claiming he left the country "with no money".
He told Sky News: "I don't take enormous lessons from Gordon Brown, remember this was a man who gave us a 75p rise for pensioners, so he's not really got a great record on this sort of thing."
But Mr Brown hit back at the "completely wrong" allegations against him, as he slammed the government's lack of leadership amid the cost of living crisis, saying "nobody seems in charge".
He said it was "ridiculous" that Boris Johnson and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi went on holiday as the Bank of England warned of a recession, while claiming Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss' "obsession" with tax cuts would not help struggling people pay their bills.
Call for COBRA crisis meeting
Asked what he would do if he were in Downing Street right now, Mr Brown said the first thing he would do is call an emergency COBRA meeting with the leadership candidates.
He added: "I would be talking about changes in the Universal Credit system to give people the money that is necessary. And I would be talking about potentially capping energy bills and that would have the effect of getting inflation down, as well as, of course, of helping people in the greatest need.
"None of these things seem to be being discussed at the moment in the way they should be. And it really is not good enough for leadership candidates to go around the country and say 'I'll have a plan next month, the month after.' This is the crisis. It's got to be addressed now."
Read more:
Calls for emergency increase to Universal Credit
Truss to 'immediately' reverse NI hike in emergency budget

Ms Truss and Mr Sunak are under mounting pressure to respond to the economic crisis after a report commissioned by Mr Brown found families are up to £1,600-a-year worse off because of the cost of living crisis - even after government help is taken into account.
Ms Truss has vowed to cut taxes immediately if she becomes prime minister, while Mr Sunak has said he will help families by scrapping VAT on energy bills.
But poverty expert Professor Donald Hirsch, who wrote the report, says the package of measures offered by the government falls far short of what low income households need - and urgent action is required.

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Boris Johnson will not intervene in cost of living crisis as that is 'for future prime minister'

08 August

Downing Street has rejected calls for Boris Johnson to summon an emergency COBRA meeting to deal with the cost of living crisis.

Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, has called for Mr Johnson to meet with his two potential successors and thrash out a financial package of measures before energy bills soar in October.
He said people will go cold and hungry this winter if urgent action isn't taken now, telling Sky News he was seeing poverty in his hometown in Fife "that I did not expect to see ever again in my lifetime".
Politics Hub: Brown slams 'vacuum' at heart of government
A leading business group, the CBI, also urged Mr Johnson to "act now" as they set out four actions the government could take to ease the impact of the crisis.
But the prime minister's spokesman said that although the government recognises the challenges facing struggling households, "by convention it is not for this prime minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period. It will be for a future prime minister."
He also defended Mr Johnson for going on holiday as the Bank of England warned of a looming recession, saying the public understand it's "not unusual for ministers to take time off during recess".
Mr Johnson and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi faced criticism for being missing in action amid grim forecasts that the UK is heading for the worst financial crisis since the 2008 crash, with interests rates soaring to their highest level in 27 years.
The PM's spokesperson said Mr Johnson - who is now back in No 10 after his holiday in Slovenia - had spoken to Mr Zahawi while on his break to discuss measures that will be coming in this year.
He suggested Mr Johnson had no plans to sit down with Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, saying: "Both candidates have spoken about new things they would introduce."
'End the August power vacuum'
However, the CBI urged the prime minister to think again and "end the August power vacuum" by bringing together the two leadership candidates to agree a way forward.
Tony Danker, CBI Director-General, said: "The economic situation people and businesses are facing requires all hands to the pump this summer. We simply cannot afford a summer of government inactivity while the leadership contest plays out followed by a slow start from a new prime minister and cabinet."
Ms Truss has pledged to reverse the national insurance tax rise immediately if she becomes prime minister, while Mr Sunak has promised a VAT cut on energy bills.
But critics say neither of their plans go far enough and new measures must be agreed now to stop a winter crisis.
A report commissioned by Mr Brown found families are up to £1,600-a-year worse off because of rising prices - even after government help is taken into account.
Bills are set to rise again in October and then again in January, when they could reach as much as £4,000
Read more:
Calls for emergency increase to Universal Credit
PM and chancellor 'completely on top' of economy despite being on holiday
Truss and Sunak face calls for daily COBRA meetings

Earlier on Sky News, Mr Brown set out his own vision for dealing with the cost of living crisis, including changing the windfall tax to get more money out of oil and gas companies, a cap on energy bills and reforming the benefits system.
The demand for further action comes as Ms Truss and Mr Sunak continue to clash over their plans for the economy.
Mr Sunak launched a fresh attack on his opponent's plan for tax cuts in an emergency budget, describing it as a "big bung" for large businesses and the better-off that would do little to help those most in need over the coming winter.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis - who is backing Ms Truss, the foreign secretary - said they would look to do "whatever we can" to help people under pressure from rising inflation.
"She's willing to do more to help people but her focus is around doing it in a way that puts more money in people's pockets, creating a high-growth economy with higher wages, more people in work," he said.
"So rather than having handouts, what we do is have a low-tax economy that's driving growth and therefore with people having more money in their pockets, they're better placed to deal with some of the challenges that we see."

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Emmerdale actor Sam Gannon dies suddenly aged 31

08 August

Ex-Emmerdale actor Sam Gannon has died suddenly while travelling in the US, his family have said.

Gannon, 31, who played Kev in the long-running ITV soap in 2019, had been staying with family in Willows, California.
His death is not being treated as suspicious.
His mother, Angela Gannon, said she had last spoken to her son on Monday, and described his death as an "absolute, total shock".
She also told the BBC that a heart condition he had had from birth had "reared its ugly head" in recent months.
She explained: "You just don't expect these things to happen, especially to a young man of 31 who was having the time of his life. He was having a great time, up in the mountains shooting tin cans, building stables for horses."
Gannon's character in Emmerdale was a horse-drawn carriage coachman, sharing scenes with the character Charity Dingle, played by Emma Atkins.
His sister, Amy Kelly, paid tribute, writing: "He genuinely cared for others and was a very sensitive soul."
His family said "he will be missed greatly by everyone who knew him".
Principally a theatre actor, the Yorkshire-born performer had previously toured with the Northumberland Theatre Company and Gobbledigook Theatre.
He had also appeared in the TV series Tales Of Bacon and the short film Talking With Angels alongside Cold Feet star John Thomson.
The Northumberland Theatre Company said it was "saddened" to hear of his death, comparing him to "a human Duracell bunny, with limitless energy".
The statement went on: "He has also been described as a genuinely lovely lad, a wonderful human and a good friend to many."
A trained pianist, guitarist and bassist, Gannon had also worked as a music teacher for over 10 years.
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A crowdfunding page has been launched to raise money to bring his body back home to Selby, North Yorkshire.
With a target of £17,000 - over half of which has been achieved in just a couple of days - any extra money raised will be donated to a UK charity supporting youth theatre.

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UK weather: New heatwave this week will be longer than July's - as people urged not to have barbecu

08 August

Another heatwave is heading to the UK - exacerbating dry conditions that have already led to hosepipe bans in some parts of the country.

Although temperatures will remain lower than the record-breaking highs of 40.3C (105F) seen last month, this latest hot spell is expected to last much longer.
High pressure building across the UK could lead to temperatures of 35C (95F) - and the heatwave is expected to peak on Friday or Saturday.
Britons are now being urged not to host barbecues in the tinder-dry conditions, with fears fireworks and sky lanterns could spark "large-scale" fires in parched areas.
Retailers are also facing calls to ban sales of disposable barbecues.
Find out the five-day forecast where you live
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents 28,000 farmers and landowners in England and Wales, has demanded retailers follow the lead of Marks and Spencer and ban the sale of disposable barbecues across the UK this summer.
"We ask them to help us protect farmland and natural habitats by not lighting barbecues, fires and other potentially hazardous materials such as sky lanterns," said CLA president Mark Tufnell.
In southeast England, where water suppliers have faced most pressure so far, just 4.2mm of rain fell in July.
That beats a record that has stood for 70 years, and by a huge amount - July 1952 saw three and a half times more rainfall than last month.
On Saturday, 15 homes were evacuated after a garden fire got out of control in Essex - with "multiple gardens, sheds, and outbuildings" destroyed and a dozen properties damaged.
About 40 people fled their homes, and seven required treatment for injuries and smoke inhalation.
Neil Fenwick, area manager for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: "While summer weather usually provides the perfect opportunity to host a barbecue or gather around a chiminea in the evening, we're strongly discouraging people from having any kinds of fires at the moment."
The whole of England and Wales is set to feel the effects of the heatwave as high pressure builds - "with sunny and very warm if not hot" conditions in Scotland and Northern Ireland as the weekend nears.
Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said: "It does look like a prolonged period of dry weather and obviously that's bad news for southern England where some rain would really be useful now."
Read more: Top tips for saving water during the heatwave
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While there's uncertainty about which areas will see the highest temperatures, early forecasts suggest they could be found in the West Midlands and the West Country.
Mr Morgan says heatwave criteria are likely to be met across the UK - potentially putting strain on the NHS as the most vulnerable suffer heat-related problems.
"We're quite confident temperatures will not go as high as they did during July, but the difference is that this is going to be quite a prolonged period of temperatures in the low 30s, so it will be very notable nonetheless," he added.
Advice to prevent becoming overheated includes closing curtains and windows during the day, and staying out of the midday sun.
Hosepipe bans
Over the weekend, Environment Secretary George Eustice "strongly urged" water companies across the UK to enforce hosepipe bans.
George Eustice said some firms have already "rightly" taken action to mitigate the effects of the prolonged dry weather as he encouraged others to follow suit.
At present, Southern Water has imposed a hosepipe ban on customers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Temporary restrictions on water use are also due to come into force for South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex from 12 August, with similar rules announced by Welsh Water for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire later this month.

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