Sun, 28 Nov 2021 Today's Paper

Sri Lankan woman, mother and two children killed in Bexleyheath fire

20 November 2021 09:01 am - 7     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A Sri Lankan woman, her mother and two young children have died in a house fire in Bexleyheath, England.

The Sri Lankan woman, named by relatives as Niruba, was killed along with her one-year-old daughter Shasna, four-year-old son Thabish and her own mother in the fire at her home in Bexleyheath, south-eat London, last night, the Daily Mail reported.

A brother-in-law escaped the flames by jumping from the top floor and breaking his legs.

The touching family photograph released this afternoon shows Niruba and her mother with the two children at a family event.

Last night the children's devastated father, Yogan Thangavadivel, was too upset to talk about the tragedy. He was being comforted by a string of relatives at his sister's home two miles from the scene of the tragedy in Bexleyheath, south east London.

Yogan, who works in an off licence, received a heart-breaking call from his wife at around 8.30pm on Thursday telling him their home was on fire. But the line went dead and he arrived back at the property to find his entire family had died.    

He was later seen 'screaming and crying' and collapsing on the ground outside the house as fire crews worked to retrieve their bodies.

Neighbours said they watched helplessly as the blaze tore through the semi-detached home after starting downstairs.

A faulty fire alarm may have led to the devastating inferno, it was claimed, as police and fire investigators probe why no alert was sounded after suggesting the was not suspicious.

The young children are believed to have died in their beds while their mother was hauled out of an upstairs window at the property but could not be saved.

The victims are believed to have moved to the area three months ago, after the £425,000 property was taken off the market.

A group of relatives - three women and two men - broke down in tears on the road this morning and were comforted by police in front of the blackened 1930s three-bed.

Neighbours and well-wishers were also laying flowers at the scene, with one saying: 'My heart aches for this loss of precious life to your family.'

Relatives told how Yogan had been at work when he got the call from his panicked wife at around 8.30pm. The blaze broke out as the grandmother had been packing bags to return to her home in Sri Lanka today.   

A cousin, who gave his name as Jega said: 'We've seen them recently at a wedding - two or three weeks ago. Happy children. It's an accident you can't prepare for.

'I think he said that a call from his wife and she was just shouting, fire, fire and the call went dead. It went silent.' He continued: 'The mother-in-law was supposed to be flying back to Sri Lanka today.

'What I heard is they were packing her stuff to get her to Gatwick today. They were upstairs - we don't know exactly where but it might have started downstairs or in the staircase.

'His brother-in-law was also upstairs, he jumped out of the window but he survived. It's so sad. It's so sad. Yogan can't speak. It's very sad - it's impossible to describe what he's going through.'

'His brother-in-law is in hospital - no one has had the chance to speak to him yet. We've heard broken legs. It is a tragedy. You can't prepare for these kinds of things. You never expect things to happen in the family.

The relative said Yogan had bought the property, which is near the home of his two sisters, only three months ago. The family are understood to have lived in the UK for more than 15 years.

A third cousin, who declined to give his name, said Yogan has now left hospital and is 'very upset'.   

Witnesses also told of the horror fire today. Builder Scott James, 44, said the house was 'quickly engulfed in flames' as smoke blew out to the street from about 8.30pm.

Mr James, whose home is a stone's throw away from the scene, said he saw people standing against a wall and one man laying alongside the wall.

He said: 'I got overwhelmed by smoke and then the whole house was engulfed. The downstairs was on fire and then the whole house went up. It was engulfed in flames. There wasn't an explosion.'

The man who was by the wall was 'distraught', he added. Mr James said he was worried and told the neighbours to get back, with the fire brigade turning up shortly afterwards.

Mr James said firefighters 'very quickly had ladders up to the windows,' as they tried to rescue those inside, adding: 'I am still in shock now about how quickly it all went.

'I saw the mum pulled out of the top window by a fire crew.'  

He said he saw the family only yesterday and had waved at them. 'I spoke to them just to say hello,' he added.

'It was just pleasantries. It is very sad to wake up this morning and hear they have perished.'

Neighbours said they watched helplessly as the blaze tore through the semi-detached home after starting downstairs

They told how the blaze tore through the semi-detached property after supposedly starting on the downstairs as they watched on helplessly

Builder Scott James said today the house was 'quickly engulfed in flames' as smoke blew out to the street from about 8.30pm

A forensic officer enters a house through a window following a fire on Hamilton Road in Bexleyheath, south-east London

Relatives are pictured at the scene of the house fire on Hamilton Road, Bexleyheath, on Friday morning following the blaze

A policeman adds to the pile of flowers building up on the end of the road where the cordon remained in place this morning

  Comments - 7

  • Karalasingam Sivalingam Saturday, 20 November 2021 09:40 AM

    Very sad. Specially for the innocent children. Do you call it karma? Humanity should pray for their sole to rest in peace.

    Ram Saturday, 20 November 2021 09:42 AM

    My sympathies to husband and relatives

    Karl Saturday, 20 November 2021 09:45 AM

    RIP....what a tragedy...

    Marie Saturday, 20 November 2021 12:57 PM

    Tragic. RIP kids, Mother and Grandmother. Deepest Sympathies to the Family.

    Be Fair Saturday, 20 November 2021 02:09 PM

    So So sorry to have read this. Condolences to the bereaved family

    Varuna De Silva Saturday, 20 November 2021 04:56 PM

    RIP. Such a tragedy!

    Pierre perera. Sunday, 21 November 2021 10:37 AM

    Our sincere condolences to the family. All the houses should be equipped emergency fire exits. We feel very sad and upset about this tragedy.


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