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Buildings in Leeds evacuated amid fears ‘unstable’ crane ‘could collapse’

Buildings in Leeds evacuated amid fears ‘unstable’ crane ‘could collapse’

Buildings in Leeds city centre were evacuated on Tuesday afternoon over fears an “unstable” crane could collapse.

A cordon was put in place around Riverside Way, with roads closed and access for pedestrians restricted as police and fire crews dealt with the “industrial incident”.

West Yorkshire Police said no-one was on the crane.

Fire crews said the crane had been “made safe” at about 5.30pm and the cordons were all lifted just before 7pm.

Police officers told onlookers there was a danger a white tower crane operating near Whitehall Road could collapse.

Police at the Leeds crane incident scene
The scene in Riverside Way, Leeds (Charlotte McCallum/PA)

The crane is one of two around a half-built tower block between the road and the River Aire.

A cordon was in place on a 300m stretch of Whitehall Road, a short distance from Leeds Station, and riverside paths were also shut and guarded by officers.

Before the cordon was lifted just before 7pm, two workers were seen at the top of the crane about 200ft up.

Two others appeared to inspect the cables from a bucket hung from the second crane.

Leeds crane incident
Engineers inspect the crane (Danny Lawson/PA)

A nearby Premier Inn hotel was among the buildings evacuated and fire engines were spotted going in and out of the cordon.

One onlooker said: “They’ve just said we can’t come through because that crane is in danger of collapse any minute.

“It looks OK to me but I would not want to be near it if it comes down.”

West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said it was called to reports of an unstable structure on Riverside Way at about 1.35pm.

A spokesperson said: “Two crews from Leeds are in attendance dealing with the structure which is a large crane. The area has been cleared of people – access is restricted and road closures are in place.”

Leeds crane incident
The workers used a cradle from the other crane to inspect the problem machinery (Danny Lawson/PA)

An update at 5.30pm said the structure had been made safe and crews were leaving, but half an hour later the fire service said its technical rescue unit was at the scene and planned to stay there until the cordon was lifted.

West Yorkshire Police said: “Access to the area has been restricted for pedestrians and road closures put in place. A number of buildings in the area are also being evacuated as a precaution.

“These closures are expected to be in place for some time and members of the public are advised to avoid the area and seek other routes.”

National Rail said disruption to services was expected until the end of the day.

London North Eastern Railway said trains running through Leeds station “may be cancelled or delayed” as emergency services dealt with an incident near the west end of the station.