Police sealed off an area near the Bank of England in London's financial district responding to a security alert after a car was abandoned with an open door in the middle of an intersection.
City workers were told to remain in their offices and move away from the windows as bomb disposal experts arrived at the scene this morning, causing severe traffic disruptions at the heart of the City placed on lockdown for almost two hours.
Witnesses said the dark green Toyota Avensis ran into a red light blasting loud music before stopping the car at the intersection of Lombard Street and Threadneedle Street and running off. Police are now hunting for driver.
"As soon as I left the tube, I realised something was wrong. It was complete mayhem, police were shouting at people to get back, it very confusing," eyewitness Tony McMahon told The Independent.
Photographs on social media showed a car parked with one door open in the centre of Bank Junction near the Bank of England. A bomb disposal robot was also spotted at the scene.
Clearer pic of evacuated Threadneedle St. Buses in foreground evacuated. Bomb defuser robot now at the car pic.twitter.com/BFF9TxozQv— Seán (@smulv) May 15, 2014
Bomb scare near the Bank of England - police very excitable - car dumped outside Royal Exchange pic.twitter.com/BFVN2OWgsm— Tony McMahon (@tonyrossmcmahon) May 15, 2014
For anyone going to Bank Station - the entire area and station is closed due to an abandoned car / bomb scare. Bomb squad there at present.— Maani (@Safatopia) May 15, 2014
Lock down at Lombard Street thanks to an abandoned car by the Bank of England...— Geordie Clarke (@GeordieClarke) May 15, 2014
The vehicle has now been deemed "safe" by police and the area has been reopened to pedestrians. Bank tube station has also returned to normal and the central line is running as usual.
A police spokesperson said: "At 11.02 City of London Police were called to a vehicle abandoned in suspicious circumstances at Bank junction.
"Following assessment the vehicle was declared safe, with the pedestrian cordon being lifted at 12.19 and road closures expected to end in the near future."
The Bank of England said it had moved staff to safe areas of the bank but that all essential operations were continuing.