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Merkinch scare over gas leak worries

By Jamie Hall

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Merkinch gas leak worry
Merkinch gas leak worry

A CITY community was thrown into chaos following a suspected gas leak.

Around 400 children and 90 staff were evacuated from Merkinch Primary School to a nearby church on Thursday after reports the kitchen floor rose up unexpectedly, sparking fears of gas underneath.

Streets were cordoned off and families were asked to leave their homes as a precaution.

Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were called to the school shortly before 11am, along with engineers from Scottish Water and gas firm SGN, who later confirmed there was no leak.

Hannah Brett, for the gas company, said: “Following reports of a smell of gas at Merkinch Primary School, our engineers were called on Thursday morning to support the emergency services in our capacity as the national gas emergency service.

“We carried out safety checks and there is nothing to suggest the smell was coming from our network.”

Frantic parents rushed to the school after receiving messages asking them to collect their children from St Michael and All Angels’ church in Abban Street, just yards from the edge of an official cordon.

Worried parent Jade Coull, who lives close to the school in Benula Road, said some children had been left distraught as a result of the scare.

“Quite a few of the children were crying,” she said. “It was awful.

“I looked out my window and I saw all the kids from the Portakabins going out the back of the school. Two of the teachers said it was because they thought there might be a gas leak.

“I went out and by the time I came back a few minutes later, all the kids had started round to the church.

“Apparently the whole floor in the kitchen lifted up by about a foot.”

Lisa Khaliq, who arrived at the scene to collect her son Harris, said she had been told to leave her home while the emergency services investigated.

“I live next door to the school and I was evacuated as well,” she said.

“They put a cordon up and told us to stay away.

“All the kids’ jackets and bags were in the school, so it was not good.”

Pupils in P6 and P7 were attending an event at Inverness High School at the time the alarm was raised but were returned to the church to wait for their parents alongside fellow pupils.

The school reopened on Friday morning.

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