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18 September 2013, 09:43
Sainsbury's has started an investigation after 62 people needed medical treatment because of a gas leak at their Hedge End store near Southampton.
All three emergency services were called to Sainsbury's in Tollbar Way and the Marks & Spencer next door, just after 5pm on Tuesday 17 September, after shoppers complained of feeling unwell at the tills in Sainsbury's. Both stores were evacuated.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue confirmed that the source was a leaking refrigerator at the Sainsbury's store, but said the gas was 'non-toxic'. M&S was also closed as a precaution.
62 people were checked over for symptoms including coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pains and runny eyes and noses. One person was taken to hospital as a precaution. No-one was seriously affected by the gas.
A 60-yard exclusion zone was put round the stores by police, and hospitals in the area were put on standby.
The fire service checked out the store but later said there was no further risk to the public. Cordons were lifted at around 9pm.
A fire service spokeswoman confirmed that the gas had been identified as a refrigerant. She said:
"We have attended a refrigerant leak at the Hedge End Retail Park on Toolbar Way, Hedge End, Hampshire.
"Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service would like to reassure residents in the local area that there is no public health warning, following earlier reports of a gas leak.''
Sainsbury's says an investigation into the cause of the gas leak is underway, and anyone affected is asked to call their customer careline.
A Sainsbury's spokesperson said:
"Last night at around 6pm, our Hedge End store was evacuated, along with the neighbouring M&S store. Following air quality checks, the emergency services confirmed the site safe at 8.25pm.
"We have worked overnight to conduct further tests and have found no cause for concern, so have reopened the store at 7am today."
An M&S spokeswoman said that a total of 100 of its staff had been evacuated from the store, and 40 had been treated as a precaution. She said:
"We were advised by police to evacuate our Hedge End store following the detection of a gas leak in an adjacent store. The store remains closed and we are supporting the emergency services.''