A “hero” who risked his life to rescue children in the aftermath of a south London fatal explosion is among dozens of evacuated residents still living in a hotel six months later.

Delroy Simms, 63, has described the “torture” of not knowing when his family can return home half a year on from the blast which shattered the windows of their house and killed his neighbour, four-year-old Sahara Salman.

Their local MP, Siobhain McDonagh, has criticised the Government for offering “very little help” to residents – after she previously highlighted how Sahara’s mother was left sleeping on the floor 10 weeks after the tragedy.

More than 500 people were evacuated from Galpin’s Road, in Thornton Heath, Merton, on August 8 last year due to extensive damage to properties and safety fears, and residents have said “around eight families” remain in hotels.

Customer services worker Mr Simms was hailed as a “hero” by his neighbours after he risked his life to rescue children from the rubble while still wearing his pyjamas in the immediate aftermath of the blast.

Half a year later, he is living in a Croydon hotel bedroom with his wife, while their two adult sons and 15-year-old daughter are staying in separate rooms.

Mr Simms told the PA news agency that he expected to be home within “a few weeks” after the blast, but his family have repeatedly been told “just one more week” by insurers ever since.

“It’s almost been torture, wanting to go home and you can’t,” he said.

“Day in day out, living in one room – it’s horrible. Going to work is how I keep my sanity.

“I’m just missing my home, more than anything else. Although I’m in a hotel, it feels like I haven’t got one.

“It’s not the fault of the hotel, they’ve tried their best to accommodate us, but they’re a business hotel so there’s people coming and going constantly, while we’re still upstairs in our little box.”

When asked how his family were coping, Mr Simms said: “They hate it big time, especially my daughter.

“We’re trying our best to make it easy for her, because she’s got the stress of doing her GCSEs, so she’s under a lot of pressure with her school work.”

Mr Simms said he felt “really bad” for the family of Sahara Salman, adding it was “disgusting” that her mother had been sleeping on the floor in temporary accommodation in the weeks after the explosion.

Sahara’s family is now living with relatives and they are still waiting for answers on what caused the explosion, as a Metropolitan Police investigation into the tragedy remains ongoing.

Mr Simms said not knowing “who was to blame for the blast” is also holding up work on damaged properties like his own because insurers are “not willing to throw money at anything”.

“They wanted us to go back into our property, believe it or not, and do the work around us, but our house, after the blast is not habitable,” he said.

“There’s glass all over the house and it stinks to high heaven because of all the food that was left in the fridge.”

Labour MP Ms McDonagh, who represents Mitcham and Morden, said the financial burden of helping residents affected by the blast had largely been left on the local council.

She told PA: “In spite of assurances in the debate I got in the House of Commons, there has actually been very little help given by the Government to the local council.

“When the explosion happened, it was the council that tried to place 500 people overnight in temporary accommodation.

“It’s an enormous task and I think the Government should have a bigger role to play.”

She added that Sahara’s family will not “have any sort of closure” until the police investigation has been completed.

“It was devastating… I imagine it’s like being in suspended animation,” she said.

“I know that the police are doing a painstaking investigation and obviously that’s important, but I would urge them to come to a conclusion as quickly as they can.”

Ms McDonagh said that she hoped residents still living in hotels “don’t feel abandoned” and urged anyone who felt unhappy with their situation to contact her constituency office.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Merton Council have been contacted for comment.