Police investigating an acid attack in east London that left two people with “life-changing” burn injuries have released details of a man they want to speak to in connection with the incident.

John Tomlin, 24, is described as a white man, 6 feet tall, of stocky build, with short fair hair, and known to frequent the Canning Town area.

Members of the public are advised not to approach Tomlin, but to dial 999 immediately if they see him.

Police want to speak to him as soon as possible in connection with an attack that took place at 9:15am on Wednesday 21 June, which saw cousins Resham Khan and Jameel Muhktar seriously injured.

They were sitting in Muhktar’s car in traffic when a corrosive substance, believed to be acid, was thrown through an open window. When Muhktar, 37, tried to drive away, the suspect pursued on foot, before the car crashed into a fence, and then the suspect ran away.

Tens of thousands of pounds have been raised online to support Khan and Mukhtar.

Khan was celebrating her 21st birthday at the time of the attack, and had recently returned to London after an exchange year in Cyprus as part of a business management degree at the University of Manchester. She was due to start a new job soon.

Both she and her cousin suffered a range of serious injuries in the incident. Muhktar was put into an induced coma as a result.

The attack was disclosed in a Twitter thread by Khan, as she revealed what happened and the injuries she sustained in it.

In an emotional interview with Channel 4 News, Muhktar described the horrific circumstances of the attack.

“It was excruciating pain, I was screaming like a baby,” he said of being jet-washed in hospital to remove the acid from his body.

He added: “I’ve never seen this guy in my life. I don’t have any problems with anybody. My cousin’s 21. She’s a business student. I mean, why would anyone do that to us?”

In a statement, the Metropolitan police said that while inquiries were ongoing, there was “no current information to suggest that this attack was racially or religiously motivated”.

Detective Superintendent Neil Matthews said: “I would like to reassure the public that our continued focus remains on finding the person responsible for this horrendous act of violence.

“We will continue to progress these inquiries as quickly as humanly possible and fully understand concerns that they should be brought to justice quickly.”