Chaos caused by IRA will costs millions

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The Independent Online
The cost of yesterday's chaos caused by the IRA bombs and alert will run into many millions of pounds in lost business and expenses incurred by the emergency services.

The two small explosions and a series of IRA coded warnings effectively severed the north of England and Scotland from the south and caused disruption for millions.

In a continuation of the IRA's tactic of maximum chaos with minimum risk, they targeted the key rail and road links in the Midlands and north of England.

Leeds, Doncaster, Crewe, and Stoke-on-Trent, were disrupted, along with two long stretches of the M6 - one in Staffordshire, the other north of Manchester. A series of warnings was issued at just after 7am, forcing the police and emergency services to evacuate the four citys' train stations, along with businesses and large areas of the town centres.

No-one was injured in the small blasts at Leeds and Doncaster, but by paralysing the stations, the rail network running between the north and south was effectively disabled.

Huge queues built up on the M6 and the area was still busy even after the closed sections were re-opened again around 1.30pm. But the rail stations remained shut late into yesterday evening - causing havoc to both west coast and east coast train services.

One of the areas worst hit was Leeds. The emergency began with an uncoded message to the city's General Infirmary at 7.14am. Within minutes, police officers were sent to the railway station to carry out a search for an explosive device.

But it was at least another one-and-a-half hours before the station was evacuated, just as an explosion was heard. There was a loud thud and a pall of smoke rose at the west end of the station. It happened either in or close to a cabinet housing high voltage electrical equipment.

No injuries were reported, but there was large-scale disruption to the train services and surrounding roads were blocked off and car parks closed stranding hundreds of cars.

Buildings, including offices, shops and hotels within a quarter of a mile radius of the station were evacuated.

By lunchtime the city was beginning to return to normal, although the train station re- mained closed.

Similar problems were experienced in the other three towns. The second explosion took place on a road bridge in Doncaster, but again no-one was hurt.

The Freight Transport Association underlined the economic toll dealt by the terror- ists' blocking industry's arterial routes, estimating that up to 40,000 heavy goods vehicles a day use the sections of the M6 closed in the latest alert - costing around pounds 1.2 million an hour.

On the railways, the FTA said that around 100 freight trains a day would normally run through the Crewe and Doncaster areas affected by yesterday's incidents.