Huge areas of east London have been left without water overnight causing shoppers to strip supermarket shelves bare of bottled water.
A burst pipe at Hackney Marshes has caused chaos across nine postcodes, leaving hundreds with no water or low pressure since Tuesday afternoon.
The 42-inch diameter pipe ruptured in a heavily wooded area at Wick Woodland, leading to flooded footpaths and supply issues in areas including Barking, Forest Gate, Leytonstone, Ilford, Plaistow and Stratford.
Thames Water said supplies will ‘take some time to fully recover’ as they work to repair the pipe and restore the pressure. It said it expects the situation to improve today and apologised for the inconvenience.
But many have complained that they are unable to wash properly and minimise the risk of coronavirus, while finding it ‘impossible’ to stick to guidelines.
Some shoppers have even started panic buying water, with one Tesco customer uploading footage of people stacking their trollies high with five litre bottles.
The shopper revealed the ‘absolute scenes’ in the Leytonstone shop, filming supermarket shelves stripped bare.
One person tweeted: ‘Family members coming back from work struggling to at least wash their hands. Supermarkets and shops are being emptied by those who have cars and can get quantities of bottles of water.’
Mary Davies, a teacher from Forest Gate, said she had a ‘tough night’ after returning home just before 5pm on Tuesday to no water.
She told the BBC: ‘We’ve had no water so things like cooking vegetables, making cups of tea, going to the toilet, having a shower, even the new Covid precautions… were impossible’.
Some have been taking advantage of the situation by selling tap water on eBay for £250.
Since social media users started sharing the listing, the seller said they would send the money to charity.
A Thames Water spokesperson said: ‘We’re really sorry to everyone who’s experienced no water or low pressure since last night. We know how worrying and inconvenient it is, and we’re pleased supplies are returning to the area.
‘However, it will take some time to fully recover as pressure in the network rebuilds and our engineers continue to repair the burst pipe. Until things are back to normal we’re continuing to prioritise assistance for vulnerable customers and will ensure they have bottled water delivered to them.
‘Overnight our engineers located and isolated the burst pipe that’s causing the problem, and we brought tankers into the area to improve the situation by pumping water straight into our local supply network.’
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