Chaos ensued at a city Sainsbury’s today when around 150 shoppers were evacuated. Customers at the Longbridge supermarket reportedly fell ill, with some requiring hospital treatment after struggling to breathe.
Emergency services rushed to the scene at around 10am. Roads around the store, including Longbridge Lane, were cordoned off by police.
Firefighters investigating the incident remained at the scene until late afternoon. The store, for now, remains closed to the public.
But what exactly happened? What do we know so far?
Do we know the cause?
In short, no. But what we do know is that Sainsbury’s has launched an internal investigation.
Firefighters spent much of the day carrying out ‘extensive checks’. In the end, they found ‘nothing of concern’.
West Midlands Fire Service did confirm however that the major supermarket would be ‘carrying out further investigations’, before ‘making a decision on when it should reopen’.
While we don’t know the cause, shoppers claimed they suddenly felt ill inside the store.
Which leads us on to …
What have shoppers said?
One shopper who we spoke to claims her friend vomited following the evacuation. Kirsty-Louise Basnett, and her two friends di lei, were inside the Longbridge store when several people ‘began coughing’.
Kirsty told BirminghamLive panic set in when they noticed two people pass out amid the chaos. She said: “I felt ill, but my mate Beth was actually sick afterwards.”
Click here to read their dramatic story in full.
Has Sainsbury’s spoken on the incident?
Yes. Sainsbury’s released an extremely short statement earlier today as the incident was ongoing.
A spokesperson for the supermarket told us: “Emergency services attended our Longbridge store this morning. Safety is our highest priority and the store is closed while we assist the police with their investigations. ”
Again, the store remains closed at this time.
Why were shoppers taken to hospital?
Paramedics arrived at the scene as it was being evacuated. They assessed a number of shoppers who were experiencing breathing difficulties.
TO West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “Sainsbury’s and other nearby buildings were evacuated after several people inside the supermarket experienced respiratory problems.
“A total of seven patients were assessed by the ambulance service after displaying minor respiratory problems. Two women received treatment at the scene, before being conveyed by ambulance, in a stable condition, to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for further checks.
“The remaining five patients were later discharged on scene. A number of others described being ‘worried but well’. They received advice from the team of ambulance staff.”
What have police said?
In a statement earlier today, West Midlands Police said: “We are currently dealing with an incident at Sainsbury’s in Longbridge Lane. We were alerted at about 10am to reports that six people were suffering breathing problems.
“Officers attended and the store was evacuated. People are also being cleared from other buildings in the area. The six patients are being treated by paramedics at the scene.”
A police cordon was removed this afternoon.
West Midlands Fire Service has completed its investigation. Firefighters found ‘nothing of concern’.
A statement at 3.26pm read: “We have now left the scene after carrying out extensive checks. Our detection equipment has highlighted nothing of concern. Sainsbury’s and their own engineers will be carrying out further investigations before making a decision on reopening the Longbridge store. “
Next, it seems, would be waiting for Sainsbury’s to complete its investigation over the cause of what happened.