Gas pipe repaired after leak leads to evacuation in central London

A gas pipe has been repaired after a leak led to the closure of two major railway stations and the evacuation of 1,450 people in central London.

Heaven nightclub was cleared and guests at a nearby hotel were moved into emergency accommodation after the alarm was raised in the Strand at around 2am on Tuesday.

Engineers located the gas escape at the junction of Craven Street with Corner House Street, and are now checking nearby buildings for gas.

People who made it into the PWC offices on Craven Street on Tuesday morning have since been evacuated, and a police officer said the gas level is still "extremely high".

Another officer told a crowd of workers that it could be 15 minutes or four hours before they will be allowed in.

Charing Cross and Waterloo East stations were shut, with services diverted into Victoria, Cannon Street and Blackfriars.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Gas supplier Cadent said: "A repair on the gas pipe has been completed.

"We are now checking the closest properties to ensure there is no gas in these buildings.

"No-one can enter these properties until we have completed these safety checks."

Cadent said the emergency services' cordon will remain in place until all safety checks have been completed.

"Our priority is to get the train stations opened as soon as possible, followed by the buildings.

"Engineers are working to resolve the situation as quickly and safely as possible and we hope to have the stations and streets open by late morning," the company said.

The Amba Hotel, nearby flats, offices and Charing Cross stations were evacuated.

Craven Street and the Strand from Duncannon Street junction to Trafalgar Square is closed.

High levels of natural gas were detected at Craven Street, London Fire Brigade said.

Emergency services in Trafalgar Square
Emergency services in Trafalgar Square (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Brett Loft, LFB spokesman and station manager at Chelsea, said: "It has happened a few times recently.

"With the ageing pipes in London there is an ongoing programme at the moment to replace all the pipework.

"It's just one of those things. It happens."

We have found and are fixing the gas leak on Craven Street. Thank you for your patience as we work to return the area to safety #CharingCross#strand

-- Cadent (@CadentGasLtd) January 23, 2018

Mr Loft said there is no danger to the public.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "We will reopen these stations as soon as we have clearance from emergency services that it is safe to do so.

"We are sorry for the inconvenience caused."

Charing Cross is London's fifth busiest station, used by about 42 million passengers a year.

The Strand, a major route through central London, was closed and a 165-yard (150 metre) cordon put in place while National Grid engineers tried to isolate the leak.

Westminster City Council said a respite centre was opened at the Queen Mother Sports Centre in Victoria.

Witnesses at Heaven nightclub in Villiers Street described "chaos" as people tried to leave "as fast as possible".

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