'You assume the worst': London shoppers 'run in horror' as electrical explosion on Oxford Street sparks mass panic and leaves one man injured

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An electrical explosion sparked mass panic on London‘s busiest shopping street and left one man injured as shoppers “ran in horror” from the blast.

Smoke billowed over Oxford Street as terrified witnesses fled “screaming and crying” from what police later described as a “small power network explosion” on Thursday evening.

One man suffered minor injuries when a box containing electric cables overloaded close to John Lewis’ flagship store, Scotland Yard said.

Labour member for Hornsey on Haringey Council, Adam Jogee was trying on a suit in the department store when shoppers began “screaming and crying” as staff members ordered people to “hide”.

Mass panic: Police and fire crews descended on Oxford Street (Twitter/ Jorge L)

He told the Standard that his “heart was in his mouth” as he watched panicked customers rush into the changing rooms and run and down escalators.

Mr Jogee said: “It was super scary. People were running and screaming and crying, and when you see that, you do assume the worst.

“It was my reaction to get outside the shop and then when you realise what it is it seems a bit silly but it is a sign of the times when people hear a loud bang and see smoke billowing down Oxford they automatically assume it’s a bomb.

Blackened pavement: The site of the explosion (Twitter/Christopher Batts)

“Not to belittle these horrible atrocities were so many people have been killed but you do hear these stories of attacks in cinemas and shopping centres, when you’re in a department store on Oxford Street and people are screaming and running down the escalators, you do panic.”

Dramatic footage posted on social media showed concerned shoppers rush away from the scene while other images appeared to show a blackened pavement.

One restaurant worker said crowds ran past the window “looking back in horror”. 

Met Police officers and crews from London Fire Brigade rushed to the retail hub, which attracts millions of tourists every week.

People were evacuated from nearby shops as a cordon was put in place around the explosion.

Police said the road was reopened shortly before 8.30pm.

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