Hundreds of office workers and hotel guests in London’s Leicester Square begin to return to buildings FIVE HOURS after they were evacuated when gas service pipe to restaurant ‘ruptured’
- Police evacuated around 200 people from Leicester Square this morning
- Tens of offices and shops affected by a suspected gas leak in central London
- Police were asking people to ‘avoid the area’ while investigations continue
Office workers and hotel guests in London’s Leicester Square have returned to their buildings five hours after around 200 people were evacuated when a gas service pipe to a restaurant ‘ruptured’.
Police forced hotel guests, shoppers and office staff to abandon the area before a 50-yard cordon was put up in the central London square.
Two fire engines and around 10 firefighters from Soho and Euston Fire Stations were at the scene today after a ‘gas main ruptured’.
As of 1pm the cordon was ‘reduced’, according to Cadent Gas, which said it thought a third party was responsible for the rupture.
This afternoon, Bear Street has opened and people have been allowed back in their homes.
Cranbourn Street was also opened up to allow access to the Vue cinema and Leicester Square was opened as far as Pizza Hut, including the Christmas market.
Police asked staff in tens of offices and shops to abandon the area this morning after the central London square was cordoned off (file image)
A post on the Met Police’s Westminster Twitter page reads: ‘Cordons are in place at Leicester Square due to a suspected gas leak’
By 2pm, the remaining buildings affected were also able to reopen: Platinum Lace, APNA Adda Indian street food restaurant, Bella Italia, Church of Notre Dame, Burger King, Espresso Bar, Leicester Square Theatre, Victory House Hotel, Premier Inn, Ruby Blue and Petit Bistro.
A spokesman for Cadent Gas said: ‘We believe the gas escape was caused by damage by a third party to a gas service pipe. This will be investigated fully once everyone has been allowed to return and the cordon removed completely.
‘Safety of people in the area has been paramount throughout and we have been working closely with the emergency services at all times.
‘If anyone smells gas, they should act fast and call us on 0800 111 999*.’
Clive Robinson, London Fire Brigade’s station commander, said: ‘A gas main has ruptured and around 200 people have been evacuated from surrounding buildings and a hotel.
‘Crews are expected to remain on scene throughout the morning.’
A post on the Metropolitan Police’s Westminster Twitter page earlier asked pedestrians to ‘avoid the area’.
The post added: ‘Cordons are in place at Leicester Square due to a suspected gas leak.
‘Emergency services are in attendance and managing the incident. A number of buildings have been evacuated as a precaution, and the square is currently closed to pedestrians. Please avoid the area.’
A spokesman for Cadent Gas said the company was called at 6.30am after reports of a gas smell.
They added: ‘The gas service pipe to a restaurant on Cranbourn Street was isolated at 10:05 this morning. We’ve stopped the gas escape..
‘We are now checking the for any gas reading in the surrounding buildings and venting them as necessary.’
They said Leicester Square was cordoned off near the Vue Cinema ‘just as a safety precaution, while we carry out investigation work’.
A Premier Inn hotel and nearby church were evacuated, along with a number of restaurants and other buildings.
Police this morning forced hotel guests, shoppers and office staff to abandon the area before a 50-yard cordon was put up in the central London square
London Fire Brigade earlier confirmed gas engineers were trying to repair the leak.
A spokesman for the brigade said: ‘Crews were called at 7.01am to reports of a gas leak in Leicester Square.
‘Around 200 people have been evacuated from nearby properties and a 50 metre cordon remains in place.
‘Engineers from Cadent gas are working to repair the gas leak.’
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