January 23, 2018 / 5:52 AM / in 7 months

Gas leak in central London closes train station, hotels evacuated

LONDON (Reuters) - A major gas leak in central London forced the closure of Charing Cross train station and the evacuation of hundreds of people from nearby nightclubs and hotels on Tuesday.

A pigeon flies out of a pedestrian subway at Charing Cross station after it was shut due to a gas leak, in London, Britain, January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Police closed the Strand, a major road artery that leads into Trafalgar Square - the very heart of the capital city - and advised people to avoid the area.

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The fire brigade said it was called at 2 a.m. and was dealing with a ruptured gas main emitting “high levels of natural gas”. Some 20 firefighters were at the scene.

The emergency prompted police to evacuate 1,450 people from hotels and the Heaven nightclub.

“Please avoid the area and find alternate travel routes,” the London Fire Brigade said.

The railway operator said Charing Cross and Waterloo East stations would remain closed, with some services diverted to other stations and others likely to be cancelled. Services were expected to resume by noon, operator Southeastern said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in London and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Robin Pomeroy

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