London

Travel chaos after gas leak shuts Charing Cross station

Strand
Image caption Charing Cross Station closed and the Strand shut off due to high levels of natural gas coming from a ruptured main

Disruption is continuing after a gas leak closed parts of London's West End.

Charing Cross and Waterloo East stations have now reopened after being shut all morning and cordons surrounding the area have been lifted.

About 1,450 people were evacuated from a nightclub and hotel after the leak was discovered on Craven Street, just off the Strand, just after 02:00 GMT.

A ruptured gas main was responsible, London Fire Brigade said. Gas company Cadent said it had repaired the leak.

The Strand and surrounding roads are now open, though rail disruption is likely to continue until 15:00, Network Rail said.

'Zombie apocalypse'

Workers in surrounding offices were evacuated as gas levels were said to be "extremely high".

Passengers were complaining other rail stations are much busier than usual, with one describing London Bridge on Twitter as being like "a zombie apocalypse".

Southeastern said "crowd control" measures were in place at the station.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Workers were evacuated from nearby buildings

Richard Okyere, 60, works as security officer on the Strand. He told the BBC he was in the building when he was alerted to a smell.

"My colleagues led me to the back of the building. The whole area smelled of gas, and we called the site engineers who came to investigate."

Nearby residents and guests from the hotel were evacuated and sent to a respite centre at Royal Horseguards Hotel in Whitehall Court.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tube passengers affected by the cordon were directed by staff

From the scene: Charlotte Franks, BBC London

Guests at the Amba Hotel, in the Strand, woke up at 3:30 to an alarm.

Some feared it was a terror attack, others looked out of the window to see a police cordon wrapped around the road. Another smelled gas as soon as he woke.

Among the guests were a group of colleagues in London for a conference and a senior figure from Blackberry.

The hotel was quickly evacuated - so quickly that one woman did not have time to reach for her contact lenses.

Guests said it was well-organised, without panic and they followed like sheep to a nearby hotel in Whitehall Court - the Royal Horseguards Hotel.

Staff there served tea, coffee and breakfast and found them space in conference rooms and corridors to rest and sleep.

Early on there was joking and laughing but as the morning has worn on the 50-or-so tired guests are getting increasingly desperate to get back to their own hotel for a bath and some sleep.


Thani Spacey, a personal assistant at an office in the Strand, had completed a 90-minute commute from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex to get to work early.

"I'm frustrated to say the least," she said. "I've just had a text from work but why didn't we hear earlier?"

Valerie Brun, from Chiswick, usually starts work at 7am at a software company on the Strand.

"Surprise, surprise - my building is locked up," she said.

Revellers at the Heaven nightclub described trying to leave "as fast as possible" after they were told to evacuate the building.

One said: "Lots of people trying to leave at the same time. As soon as the word evacuation was heard from security staff everyone was trying to get out as fast as possible."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Charing Cross Station is closed and the Strand shut off due to high levels of natural gas coming off a ruptured main

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