Millions stolen in Heathrow raid

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A gang of robbers escaped with a "substantial" amount of cash during a raid at Heathrow Airport today in which a security van was ambushed, Scotland Yard said.

Police refused to reveal exactly how much was taken from the British Airways van during the incident at 6.30am. But it is understood that $5m (£3.5 million) flown into Heathrow on a jet from Bahrain and bound for New York's JFK airport was stolen.

The driver of the van was attacked by two men near Terminal 4. He had his wrists bound before the robbers transferred the cash into another British Airways van.

Today's raid bears similarities with the £26 million Brink's–Mat heist at Heathrow, which remains Britain's biggest ever robbery.

A gang seized a haul of gold bullion from the high security Brink's–Mat bullion warehouse in November 1983.

They escaped with 6,800 ingots weighing three tons as well as an assortment of travellers cheques and diamonds.

The robbers fled the scene today in the van which was later found burned out in the

nearby Feltham area. There was no trace of the cash.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "At this very early stage the police are trying to establish the exact circumstances of the robbery. No firearms were seen.

"We are not prepared to comment on the exact amount of money that was taken. It was a substantial amount."

Police based at the airport were called to a secure airside area near Terminal 4 where they found the driver of the BA van on the floor with his wrists bound.

He told officers that at least two men had attacked him. He said the men transferred the cash into a Renault Mastervan with BA grey, red and blue livery.

The driver, 35, was later taken to a West London hospital suffering shock and injuries to his wrists.

Police did not reveal how the offenders gained access to the secure area or in which direction they fled the scene.

Flying Squad detectives have launched a major hunt for the men and have appealed for witnesses who may have seen the van to come forward.