London

London Zoo fire kills aardvark 'and meerkats'

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Media captionLondon Zoo 'devastated' by aardvark fire death

Staff have been injured and an aardvark and possibly four meerkats killed in a fire at London Zoo.

About 70 firefighters tackled the blaze at its height in the Animal Adventure section that spread to a shop.

One person was taken to hospital and eight were treated at the scene.

The zoo said an aardvark called Misha died in the fire and four meerkats were still unaccounted for, presumed dead. The zoo was shut on Saturday but said it would reopen on Sunday.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Image copyright Brendan Cooney/Reuters
Image caption Photographs posted on social media showed orange flames rising from the building

Ten fire engines went to the zoo, which sits in the capital's Regent's Park, shortly after 06:00 GMT and the fire was brought under control about three hours later.

Six people were given help at the scene for the effects of smoke inhalation and two for minor injuries, London Ambulance Service said.

One person was taken to a north-west London hospital, the service said.

Image copyright London Fire Brigade
Image copyright Charlie Bard

Duty staff who live on site were on the scene "immediately" and started moving animals to safety, the zoo said.

In a statement the zoo said it was "devastated" about what had happened.

It said: "Sadly our vets have confirmed the death of our nine-year-old aardvark, Misha. There are also four meerkats still unaccounted for, but we are now presuming these have also died.

"All other animals in the vicinity are being monitored closely by our vets, but early signs suggest they have not been affected. We will continue to monitor them over the coming days.

"We are all naturally devastated by this, but are immensely grateful to the fire brigade, who reacted quickly to the situation to bring the fire under control. "

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Adnan Abdul Husein said he saw the blaze from a nearby park when he was out walking his dog, and alerted zoo security.

"It didn't look like smoke just coming out of a chimney - it was quite heavy", he said.

"As I got closer to the zoo I could see that it was actually inside the zoo so I went over to the security and told them, 'there's flames or there's smoke coming from inside there, do you know anything about it?'. And they obviously didn't have a clue."

Image copyright Getty Images

London Fire Brigade (LFB) station manager Clive Robinson, who was at the scene, said three-quarters of the cafe and shop had been affected by the fire and half of the roof.

He said: "Firefighters worked hard to bring the fire under control as quickly as possible and to stop it from spreading to neighbouring animal enclosures."

Image copyright @PaulWood1961
Image copyright London Fire Brigade
Image caption The cause of the fire is not yet known, London Fire Brigade said
Image copyright Getty Images

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