People suffer breathing difficulties after Stratford’s London Aquatics Centre evacuated due to ‘gas release’

Firefighters, police and paramedics are at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which has been evacuated and cordoned off.

Emergency services are responding to a major incident at the London Aquatics Centre in Stratford after a “gas release” caused “breathing difficulties”.

Firefighters, police and paramedics are at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which has been evacuated and cordoned off.

Dramatic footage shows the chaos unfolding at the Aquatics Centre after the toxic gas leak, with children caught up in the incident.

Major incident at the London Aquatic Centre. Photo: Emma Bellot / Twitter

A “high quantity of chlorine gas” has been released inside the centre due to a chemical reaction, the fire service has said.

People in the nearby area are asked to close their doors and windows while the premises is ventilated

The London Ambulance Service said it is treating a number of patients at the scene.

Footage shows several ambulances and paramedics swarming the area and treating those in need.

People can be seen gathered around the area outside the building, with many sat down wrapped in tin foil blankets.

A man was visiting the centre with his son at the time and recalled the moment they began to notice “a strong sharp smell that takes your breath away”.

People being treated by paramedics outside the London Aquatics Centre. Credit: SWNS

The pair said they alerted others as they escaped the building and awaited treatment from several ambulances which had been called to the scene.

The man recalled “around 150 people” waiting outside who had been evacuated from the building.

He recalled: “It was this very sharp smell, it made it difficult to breathe. We could feel it burning in our throats and lungs.”

He told how they rushed outside and several ambulances were there administering medical attention, prioritising those most affected.

He said there were all different kinds of people outside - including a class of schoolchildren who had been in the building.

The video shows people gathered around the area outside the building, with many sat down wrapped in tin foil blankets.

The pair had their heart rate and blood pressure checked before being given the green-light to leave.

He said: “It felt dangerous – we were distressed by how it affected our breathing. It took your breath away.”

In a tweet, a spokesperson for the Aquatics Centre said: “At approximately 10am this morning (Wednesday, March 23) 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.”

They added: “We are awaiting guidance from the facilities management company, London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and the emergency services on when the Centre will be able to reopen.”

The scene at the London Aquatics Centre. Photo: Inclicting Gentoos

A spokesperson for the LAS said: “We are responding to an incident at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and have a number of resources on scene.

“Please only call 999 for genuine medical emergencies and use 111 online for any other urgent medical needs.

“London Ambulance Service is responding to a major incident at the Aquatics Centre in Stratford alongside colleagues from the London Fire Brigade and the Met Police.

“We have dispatched multiple resources to the scene and are treating a number of patients.”

“More updates to follow.”

Mayor of London 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.

London Aquatic Centre at the Olympic Park in Stratford. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

“A number of people are being treated by London Ambulance Service. Please avoid the area which has been cordoned off and evacuated.”

A spokesperson from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) said: “Firefighters are dealing with reports of a chemical incident at Aquatics Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

“The LAS are treating a number of patients.”

A Met Police spokesman said: “ Officers were alerted by London Fire Brigade at 9.53am to a leak of noxious fumes a the Aquatics Centre, Queen Elizabeth Park.

“Officers and London Ambulance Service have also attended the scene.

“A number of people have been evacuated from the premises.”

Inside the London Aquatics Centre. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The London Aquatics Centre is an indoor facility with two 50-metre swimming pools and a 25-metre diving pool.

The centre, designed by architect Zaha Hadid as one of the main venues of the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2012 Summer Paralympics, was used for the swimming, diving and synchronised swimming events.

After significant modification, the centre opened to the public in March 2014.

More to follow