Image copyright Sian Williams Image caption The incident happened at around 10.40pm on Monday at an estate between Wood Green and Nine Elms
A taxi driver who was seriously injured in a massive explosion in London has praised emergency services for saving his life.
Nisar Ali, who suffered serious burns after the blast in Wood Green last week, said he was “in a lot of pain” but thanked everyone for their help.
He described the moment his car blew up, saying: “It was a second there that changed my life.”
The 34-year-old, who has been hailed a “true hero” by locals, said he was trapped inside the taxi for 45 minutes.
He added that doctors at Royal London Hospital told him he had miraculously escaped without serious injuries.
“Had it not been for the action of those nurses, doctors and emergency services, I would not be here right now,” he said.
Image copyright Sian Williams Image caption He was pictured before he was engulfed in flames
“It’s a miracle that I’m alive. It sounds strange but I just feel I am home. I am very thankful for that.”
As well as the major fire, crews were called to treat two other drivers who suffered minor injuries after the blast, which took place on Monday evening at 10.40pm (1940 GMT).
The scene was cordoned off as police prepared to blow up two cylinders from the garage where the explosion happened.
Image copyright Greater London Police Image caption Police used a controlled explosion to blow up two cylinders
Inspector Chris Walton, of Scotland Yard, said: “Emergency services remain on scene to make the scene safe while we continue to investigate the cause of the fire.”
Investigations were continuing, he added.
Mr Ali said the explosions on the unit in Walthamstow came minutes after a gas alarm went off.
He said he did not know there was a fire when it happened but had come out of the cab to find a gas cloud “of inferno”.
“It was like something you see in a horror movie,” he added.
Image copyright Greater London Police Image caption He said the debris was so thick he was sure he was killed
As the blast severed his shoulder and smashed his cheek, he said his family thought he was dead.
“They were upset. It was not a good time, but I managed to tell them I was alright. It was a miracle.”
He also praised the medics, who continued to give him oxygen, as they held his hand while he was confined to the cab “swollen and cut from getting squashed”.
What we know
Ambulance staff describe a “horrific explosion” with “catastrophic damage” to a taxi – only able to narrowly escape the fireball with their lives
More than 50 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze, which took 25 minutes to bring under control
The driver was given first aid and was not taken to hospital but has been cared for by paramedics
His injuries are serious but not thought to be life-threatening
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“Everyone had an interest in my welfare and that’s something I can never thank people enough for doing,” he added.
BBC Newsnight’s Chip Rossiter, who interviewed him, said he was overwhelmed by the experience.
“Nisar has been remarkably composed, remarkably humble and remarkably admiring of the London Fire Brigade for giving him treatment which people in similar circumstances would have died for,” he said.
“His life was in danger last week, but he has taken some of the focus off himself, and he is a very well loved and well respected person in the London cab trade.”