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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 16:30 GMT
Siege puts 'lives on hold'
Trapped Hackney residents
Some residents have been trapped since Boxing Day

As fire took hold at the east London bedsit where a gunman has been holed up for two weeks, dozens of residents were hoping for an end to Britain's longest armed siege.

At the last count, 32 adults and seven children were still unable to leave their homes in Hackney and are continuing to have food and supplies delivered.

Post has had to be re-distributed, pets re-housed and new clothes bought for the 132 adults and 19 children who are still in temporary accommodation after being evacuated on Boxing Day.

Others living in the 'outer cordon' still have to get into their homes by a specially cleared walkway to keep them out of the line of fire.

Betty Gibson and paramedic
Betty Gibson was escorted out by paramedics
Jason White's mother, sister and two-year-old niece live opposite the besieged flat, so on Boxing Day they went to stay with his brother in Islington.

Two weeks later, they are still unable to return.

Mr White said: "They couldn't get any clothes for about a week so they just had the stuff they took with them for the day.

"Their whole lives have just been turned upside down with no end in sight.

When people are evacuated they don't anticipate being so two weeks down the line

Anita Grodkiewicz, WRVS
"Their lives are hold until this situation comes to an end."

Mr White's older brother Darryl has since managed to get back into the family home for security purposes and to look after the dog, but he is confined to the back of the property.

He has spent a tedious two weeks listening to sirens and loudhailers through the night.

Watching videos is out of the question as the machine is at the front of the house in the line of fire, so he only has a radio, small television and the dog for company.

Council support

The family does not understand why the police continue a 'softly, softly' approach when the gunman has shown he is not afraid to use firearms.

This is the first armed siege Hackney has had to deal with and the council is supporting the police operation, by providing food, supplies and temporary accommodation.

But it is also faced with many related issues such as finding parking spaces for council staff as their own car park is filled with police cars.

They have called on the help of WRVS volunteers who have been supplying toothbrushes, food, medicine and new clothes as the siege continues.

WRVS emergency services manager Anita Grodkiewicz, said: "As time goes on it escalates because lots more issues come to light.

"When people are evacuated they don't anticipate being so two weeks down the line."


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See also:

09 Jan 03 | England
05 Jan 03 | England
03 Jan 03 | England
30 Dec 02 | England
27 Dec 02 | England
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