Tesco shoppers panic buy bottled water as supply cut off to much of east London

Supermarket customers are panic buying bottled water as supplies into much of east London have been cut off for hours.

Footage showing frantic shoppers clearing the shelves in a Tesco in Leytonstone went viral on Tuesday evening, with thousands still unable to access running water.

The short clip sees a man wheeling a trolley filled with bottles of water as others around him also do their bit to clear the shelves.

Thames Water has put the problem down to a large water pipe bursting in the Hackney Marshes area at around 6.30pm which has caused extremely low pressure or none at all in parts, reports MyLondon.

The company has also since posted on Twitter it will be “arranging bottled water stations for the morning” – while “prioritising vulnerable customers” – suggesting the issue will run well into Wednesday.

Desperate residents have been left washing their hands with bottled water, with some taking to social media to plead with the company to offer doorstep deliveries until the issue is resolved.

“Can you bring water out to the doorsteps of your affected customers tonight?” one person wrote on Twitter.

“The shops are empty. We are in midst of a serious pandemic and we need to flush our toilets and wash our hands to stay well.”

Another wrote: “This is not good enough without any warning. I couldn’t bath my daughter this evening and can’t have tea or hot drinks.”

Some people have even taken to selling water online, with one advert offering 1400ml of “fresh tap water” for £100 in the Newham area.

Nine postcodes of London and two in Reading are said to have been impacted by the cut off, with water chiefs assuring they had multiple teams working to resolve the problem.

In a statement on Tuesday night the utilities company said it was “really sorry” to those people affected.

They went on to say the repair is a “complex job” but “we’re drafting in more staff and working as quickly as we can so that we can begin a repair as soon as we’ve found the damaged section”.

“In the meantime, we’ve brought tankers into the area to improve the situation by pumping water into our local supply network.

“We know how annoying and inconvenient this is, especially at this difficult time.

“We’re already receiving a lot of calls about this, so please only ring us if it’s an emergency. We’re doing all we can to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

The areas in east London affected include:

E6 – East Ham, Beckton, Upton Park, Barking (part)
E7 – Forest Gate, Leytonstone (part), Stratford (part)
E10 – Leyton, Temple Mills, Hackney Marshes (part), Upper Clapton (part), Walthamstow Marshes
E11 – Leytonstone, Wanstead, Aldersbrook (part), Snaresbrook, Cann Hall
E12 – Manor Park, Little Ilford, Aldersbrook (part)
E13 – Plaistow, West Ham (part), Upton Park (part)
E15 – Stratford, West Ham (part), Maryland, Leyton (part), Leytonstone (part), Temple Mills (part), Hackney Wick (part), Bow (part)
E16 – Canning Town, Silvertown, Royal Docks, North Woolwich, Beckton (part), Custom House
E20 – Olympic Park and parts of Stratford, Homerton, Leyton and Bow