In Brief

Grenfell fallout: New fears about UK structural failures

Four south London high-rises to be evacuated after inspection reveals they could collapse in a gas explosion

Hundreds of residents are to be evacuated from four south London tower blocks over fears that a gas explosion could cause the buildings to collapse, leading to concerns that further structural problems exist in other aging high-rises across the UK.

Southwark Council says that while it appreciates the move is "inconvenient", it's "not willing to take any risks" in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster that killed more than 80 people.

The decision to shut off the gas in the four Ledbury estate buildings in Peckham, south London, was made after an investigation revealed that cracks in the buildings left the tower blocks at risk of collapse in the event of a gas explosion. 

"Strengthening works" – which were supposed to be carried out on estates across the UK following a deadly tower block collapse in Newham, east London, in 1968 – may have never been done on the Ledbury blocks, the local Southwark News reports. 

Residents told LBC that they have been warning the council about the problems for more than a decade.  

"In some flats, you can put your whole hand through the crack to your next-door neighbour or shake hands with the person on the floor below," one man said.

The discovery that the buildings may be structurally unsafe "heralds a potential new series of safety worries about high-rise flats," The Guardian reports, adding that there are likely to be many other tower blocks around the country with similar problems.

The gas supply to 242 of the Peckham flats was cut off yesterday. Residents will have to move out in the coming weeks, The London Evening Standard reports. 

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