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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 13:31 GMT
Hospital evacuees met by Prince
Prince William meets patient Fathieh Shihab
The prince met breast cancer patient Fathieh Shihab (right)
Prince William has met patients and staff who were evacuated from the Royal Marsden Hospital during a fire.

About 180 patients and 800 staff were evacuated from the west London hospital on Wednesday after the fire took hold in its upper floors and roof.

The prince, who is president of the hospital, spoke to patients moved to the nearby Royal Brompton Hospital.

The Royal Marsden's outpatients department and medical day unit are expected to reopen on Monday.

It was the first hospital in the world dedicated to cancer treatment and research, and sees more than 40,000 patients from the UK and abroad every year.

Staff praised

Fire investigators are searching for evidence to establish the cause of the fire, which broke out on Wednesday afternoon.

Five operating theatres and two wards were badly affected by the blaze but on Thursday a hospital spokesperson said damage to the building was "not as bad as first suspected".

On Friday the prince praised the efforts of staff who helped carry patients from the burning building.

Breast cancer patient Fathieh Shihab, 58, from Chelsea, was among those he met.

Roof of hospital alight
The fire started on the fourth floor and destroyed much of the roof

"It was a bit of a shock when they told us we would have to be evacuated," she said.

"The staff were amazing. Everyone was keeping calm and quiet and leading us to safety."

Mrs Shihab added: "The prince was wonderful. He said I looked very healthy and that it's great I'm getting better."

Nurse Bethan Fletcher, 25, said: "It's nice to see the support he brings and that he and everyone else is thinking about us. Everyone is working in a really united way."

Patients continue to receive their treatment from Royal Marsden specialist teams either at the Royal Brompton Hospital or at their sister site in Sutton.

During a visit to the Royal Brompton earlier this week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the government would do everything in its power to fully reopen the site as soon as possible.

In pictures: Royal Marsden fire
02 Jan 08 |  In Pictures

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