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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Mass evacuation plan for London
People in chemical suits
Parts of London could be evacuated in the event of an attack
Mass evacuation plans for London are being developed in case the capital is hit by a terror attack, the government has confirmed.

The effort involves the Metropolitan Police, emergency services, transport operators and local authorities.

Minister Nick Raynsford said there was no need for alarm but "sensible precautions" had to be taken so any area of London could be evacuated.

A spokesman added there was no intelligence an attack was "likely".

Contingency

Mr Raynsford told the Evening Standard newspaper: "We do not want to cause alarm - it is part of sensible preparations to cope with any eventuality.

These plans are unlikely ever to be used but we have to prepare for the very worst
ODPM spokesman

"In the event of an incident in part of London, there must be contingencies in place.

"The aim is not just to help people leave the city safely but to provide information for those authorities receiving them outside."

A statement from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister added: "These plans are unlikely ever to be used but we have to prepare for the very worst.

"There is no intelligence which leads us to believe this is likely but government has a duty to plan."

Major incident

The spokesman added that actual details of the plans would not be published for security reasons.

But she said that the ODPM were asking local authorities to identify venues capable of accommodating "significant numbers of people".

Plans were also underway to direct evacuees from railway and bus stations to shelters.

"The work on evacuation is only part of an enormous amount of work the government and frontline services have done and are doing to be as prepared as possible to cope with any major incident and not only terrorism," the spokesman said.

It is understood the plans for the evacuation include moving government to a secure nuclear bunker somewhere in the countryside.

In the event of an attack mobile phones would be texted with instructions on how people should protect themselves. The authorities would also use radio and TV to communicate warnings and advice.

As well as identifying places in the home counties for evacuation, places suitable for becoming temporary mortuaries are also being identified.




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