Cancer hospital evacuated after fire
A leading cancer hospital in London was badly damaged in a major blaze on Wednesday which forced the evacuation of all its patients and staff.
The entire top floor of the Royal Marsden Hospital was gutted as patients, some of whom had been in operating theatres, were taken to neighbouring hospitals and churches amid freezing conditions.
Hundreds of staff, some still dressed in surgical scrubs, gathered outside as streets surrounding the hospital were shut, bringing travel chaos.
A London Fire Brigade spokesman described the blaze, which started at lunchtime in the Fulham Road hospital, as "a very big and serious fire".
He said there were 25 appliances and 125 firefighters tackling the blaze.
"All the patients and staff have been evacuated from the hospital," he added. "It is one of the larger fires we have had to deal with."
There were no reports of casualties nor any early indications of the cause of the blaze.
Patients were taken to the nearby Chelsea and Westminster hospital and the Royal Brompton hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Royal Marsden said all patients were safe.
A London ambulance spokesman said 15 ambulances and a Hazardous Area Response Team were at the scene.
A doctor at the hospital, Toni Burke, told Sky News that at least two patients had been in theatre as the blaze took hold.
But patient numbers overall were lower than normal because many had gone home for Christmas.
Television pictures showed thick smoke and flames billowing from the top floor with part of the roof reduced to embers.
Local worker Alicja Kass, 31, told Reuters that smoke had blanketed the area.
"There is loads of smoke -- it is very dark in the streets," the sales assistant said.
According to its Web site, the hospital was the first in the world dedicated to cancer treatment and research into the causes of cancer, having been founded in 1851 by William Marsden.