Almost 30 people have been taken to hospital with breathing difficulties after a “high quantity of chlorine gas” leaked in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London.
Around 200 people were evacuated from the Aquatics Centre on Wednesday morning, in what was called a “major incident”.
Terrified swimmers were left “coughing and spluttering” following a highly toxic chlorine gas leak.
Emergency services were called out just before 10am when a noxious substance leaked into the building containing the swimming pool and diving area.
Ambulance crews took 29 people to hospital and assessed a further 48 at the scene, the majority experiencing minor breathing difficulties.
People could be seen being placed into ambulances while others were wrapped in blankets.
What happened at the Olympic Park?
A chemical reaction led to a “high quantity” of chlorine gas being released when the facilities management company that operates the plant room took delivery of pool chemicals, according to GLL, which operates the Olympic Park venue.
Earlier on Wednesday The Olympic Park said on Twitter it involved “the release of a gas” at the centre, causing the area to be evacuated and cordoned off.
The tweet said: “There are a number of casualties with breathing difficulties being treated by @Ldn_Ambulance”.
LAS added on Twitter: “We are responding to an incident at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and have a number of resources on scene. More updates to follow.”
Paramedics were treating a number of patients at the scene in the Olympic Park.
London Fire Brigade said a “high quantity of chlorine gas” was released inside the Aquatics Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London due to a “chemical reaction”.
The brigade tweeted: “Update Aquatic Centre in #Stratford. Due to a chemical reaction a high quantity of chlorine gas was released inside the centre.
“While we ventilate the premises we would ask those residents in the immediate vicinity to close their doors and windows.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I remain in close contact with our emergency services who are dealing with a gas-related incident at the London Aquatics Centre this morning.
“A number of people are being treated by London Ambulance Service. Please avoid the area which has been cordoned off and evacuated.”
What have people at the scene said?
A swimmer who was in the pool at the time, but declined to give his name, said: “We were in the pool when the alarm sounded.
“I knew it wasn’t a drill because the staff were shouting to get out. A sign was also put up for people who couldn’t hear what was being said.
“We quickly got out and went through the changing rooms to run and grab our stuff and thankfully we could, because I don’t know how others are going to get their clothes.
“There was a really strong smell of chlorine in the changing room.
“I feel okay now, but the longer you were in there it got harder to breathe.
“We got out and it was okay. A paramedic came over to us and asked how we were doing, but we were fine - maybe a small headache.”
He added: “It was pretty scary. It’s a warm day so you feel like you should be able to go for a swim.”
Alex Brightman, 26, a construction worker, said: “We weren’t really sure what was going on, but saw loads of ambulances go to the swimming pool.
“Loads of people came running out of the centre coughing and spluttering, they were covering their faces to stop breathing in the fumes.
“It looked like they were really struggling to breathe.
“People were encouraging others to get away from the centre as fast as they could. Some people were lying on their backs, and I saw a gut trying to help them up.
“You could smell it in the air, that bleachy smell. It must have been awful inside.
“Paramedics looked like they treated people really quickly and efficiently because I think almost everyone who is inside is now gone.”
What have the operators of the centre said?
A spokesperson for GLL, which operates the London Aquatics Centre, said: “The emergency services were called and some of our customers have required medical treatment due to breathing difficulties.
“We are working to support all those affected.
“We are awaiting guidance from the facilities management company, LLDC and the emergency services on when the Centre will be able to reopen.”
A London Aquatics Centre spokesperson said: “At approximately 10am this morning we took the decision to evacuate the London Aquatics Centre.
“This was due to a release of gas that occurred when the facilities management company that operates the plant room took delivery of pool chemicals.
“We are awaiting guidance from the facilities management company, LLDC and the emergency services on when the Centre will be able to reopen.
“If you had a booking at London Aquatics Centre for today or tomorrow, your booking has been cancelled and your account will automatically be credited. Thank you for your understanding.”
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