Niki Cheong is blogging

Bomb scare near Fleet Street and Strand in London

I guess it took something like this to kick my butt and get me updating my blog again. Not that it ended up being much but at the time it happened, I got terribly excited.

Just over a year ago, when I was in Paris visiting the Eiffel Tower, I got caught amid a bomb scare that required me to evacuate the area. It was an “almost famous” scenario for me as CNN very nearly put me on air to talk about it. You can read my post on it here.

Well, CNN didn’t call today but once again, I found myself being evacuated because of a bomb scare. This time, it was happening in the area between one end of Fleet St and the other end of Strand in central London.

I was walking back from the Maughan Library in Chancery Lane back towards Covent Garden when I heard sirens, saw lots of cops who were just shouting at us to get away.

I stopped just across from King’s College (where I study at) and watched to see what was happening. I didn’t have much of a clue as to what was going on; as I walked away I saw the cops asking shopkeepers to leave and close up their shops as well. There were talk about maybe the cops cleaning up the Occupy London portests near St Paul’s Cathedral.

But just as I got out from under the police tape, I heard one officer whisper – sotto voce – to someone asking if he could just get through to go to one of the buildings that it was a bomb scare.

A few minutes later, the sniffer dogs appeared and people started gathering round. Many of course kept asking the cops questions – some wondering what was happening, others needed directions for their detours. I was even standing next to a bus driver who was made to abandon his bus in the middle of the streets to evacuate.

Then there were the others who, even though they knew the place was cordoned off, wanted to go through. Except that the cops were having none of it and screamed at them. They just laughed, and walked back (pictured below). Sigh, some people.

I think I was there for about 20-35 minutes and things escalated. More police cars showed up, ambulances arrived and even fire engines. But there was no explosion so I guess it was all precautionary. Around that time, some tweets were floating in the Twittersphere that there were suspicious packages near the Royal Courts of Justice. I actually walked past that building as I was evacuating!

At the end of the day, it wasn’t a big issue. An officer came by to tell us that the road will be opened again in a couple of minutes. Then just like that, the tape was removed and everyone was allowed to go through again.

It was only at that point that I realised how cold I was, and how my hands were frozen from all the tweeting. I’m glad nothing happened, and that it wasn’t a real bomb. I did get a good thrill though, especially now that I’ve left full-time journalism. :)

9.40pm Greenwich Meridian Time

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