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Hundreds of shoppers have been told to leave IKEA store in Ashton-under-Lyne this afternoon after unconfirmed reports of a 'gas leak', with roads cordoned off nearby.
Customers at the huge homeware store heard the alarm at around 3.30pm this afternoon.
The Manchester Evening News reports that staff told families with children to leave first, with others following behind, as the emergency exit doors were opened.
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One shopper said that the exit from the car park was 'gridlocked' with heavy traffic after the announcement.
A spokesman for the The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “Firefighters from Oldham, Hollins, Stalybridge and Ashton fire stations arrived quickly at the scene. Crews have worked alongside emergency service colleagues to clear the area, including evacuating local businesses.
“Road closures are in place, and people are being asked to avoid the area so that we can continue to work quickly.”
Gary Roberts, Deputy Market Manager, IKEA Manchester said, “The safety of our customers and co-workers is always highest priority for IKEA.
We can confirm that IKEA Manchester was evacuated this afternoon after a gas leak was reported near to the store.
"The store will remain closed today and will re-open on Tuesday morning, owing to confirmation that it is safe to do so by local authorities. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers.”
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One customer tweeted from her vehicle, which was still in IKEA's rooftop car park: "We are still sat on the roof of IKEA Ashton in our car.
"All we can hear are sirens and alarms. The car park is gridlocked! Not the slickest evacuation!"
Another customer, Stuart Houghton, added: "If it was a fire or serious incident we would all be dead! Very poor.
"Staff telling us to queue up at the tills after being told to evacuate. Sent up a fire escape to the roof!"
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Another shopper who was evacuated this afternoon with his three children told the MEN: "It came over the tannoy that everyone had to leave and get to the closest exit and then the alarms started going off.
"The car park is chaotic we may as well have the engine off as everyone is trying to drive out and there are hundreds of cars. We didn't know what was happening but it seemed like a major issue.
"I have three young children so for them hearing the alarms and people being panicked is scary for them. We all had to leave via the ground floor first and then made our way to our cars."
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