Sep 17 2013
A number of people are receiving medical treatment after a suspected gas leak at a shopping centre.
The retail centre at Hedge End, Southampton, Hampshire, which includes a Sainsbury's supermarket and a Marks and Spencer store, was evacuated after the alarm was raised at about 5pm on Tuesday.
It is understood that Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are treating the incident as a hazardous materials incident and South Central Ambulance Service as well as the police are on scene.
A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said that four fire crews were at the scene as well as its hazardous materials unit, making a total of 20 firefighters. She said: "We are still attending at Hedge End where there is a suspected gas leak. The Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer stores have been evacuated. We are on scene along with the police and ambulance service. The incident is being treated as a hazardous material incident."
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus have been seen entering the stores and the surrounding area has been cordoned off. The BBC has reported that 19 people have been treated at the scene by paramedics.
A Marks and Spencer's spokeswoman said that about 40 staff as well as customers were evacuated from its store. She said it was understood that the gas leak originated at the Sainsbury's supermarket.
She said: "We were advised at 6pm by the police to evacuate the store because we have a shared entrance with Sainsbury's. All of our staff have been evacuated and checked and given the all-clear. We are providing all the support we can to those on the scene, providing teas and coffees."
A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "We can confirm there has been an incident at our Hedge End store this evening. The store is currently closed and we are working with the emergency services."
Shopper Richard Hillier wrote on Twitter: "Hopefully the gas leak wasn't serious, left Sainsburys Hedge End just as emergency services turned up. Haven't stopped coughing since leaving."
The fire service spokeswoman said that the leaked gas was a refrigerant. She added that one person had been taken to hospital as a precaution. It is understood that a total of 62 people had been seen by paramedics.