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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
'Our escape from house collapse'
Terry and Eve Shepherd
The Shepherds ran out of the house in the middle of the night
A couple whose house collapsed in the middle of the night have told how they were trapped inside as cracks started appearing around them.

Eve and Terry Shepherd were asleep at their home in Ridley Road, Bromley, south-east London, when the sound of cracks appearing woke them.

Mr Shepherd shouted: "Quick get out", but the bedroom door had jammed. They managed to run down the stairs and out.

It could be months before residents of 20 homes can return.

It was 0400 BST on Tuesday when they were woken by the noise of the walls cracking, Mr Shepherd at first thought his wife was "messing around".

We just ran down the stairs and out of the door
Eve Shepherd

Mrs Shepherd told BBC London: "Then all of a sudden he said: 'Quick, get out. But we couldn't open the bedroom door.

"Then we heard 'crackle, crackle, and cracks started appearing. He just said: 'Get some clothes on and let's get out' and that's what we did, we just ran down the stairs and out of the door."

They woke their neighbours, Leanne Parker and Andrew Marshall, who also found their front door was jammed and had to escape out of the back window.

The fire brigade were called and within hours the front of the Shepherds' house had fallen away.

Structural engineers are at the site to see whether subsidence, or something else, is to blame. But it could be months before residents can return home.

Mr Marshall said: "It's a waiting game now, and obviously everyone is stressed."

He does not think his home, owned by Ms Parker's parents, has buildings insurance.

The Shepherds were treated for shock after their escape. Mr Shepherd said he never thought he would see his home, half of which has caved in, in such a state.

"I'm gutted, honestly," he said.

A rest centre was set up by the council nearby, but closed on Tuesday because everyone affected had found friends or relatives to stay with.

A spokeswoman for Bromley Council said they were doing everything they could.

The semi-detached house was near the rail track and a 40-metre exclusion zone was set up shortly after the collapse.

Eurostar and domestic rail services, disrupted as a result, have resumed.

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