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18 Aug 2009

Power failure forces Chessington evacuation
BY Pete Hayman

Visitors at the Chessington World of Adventures theme park near Epsom, Surrey, UK, had to be rescued by staff and firefighters on 17 August after a major power failure caused rides to grind to a halt.

According to the Daily Mail, a number of people were left trapped 20ft (6.1m) above a lion enclosure when the Safari Skyride monorail system came to a halt as a result of the problem, which occurred around 12:48pm.

The incident forced park officials to evacuate the entire theme park as fire crews from London Fire Brigade were called to assist with efforts to free around 40 people who were left stranded by the power failure.

A spokesperson for Chessington World of Adventures said: "All rides were evacuated by 15:22pm using the park's well-rehearsed emergency procedures. The health and safety of our guests is our primary objective at all times and at no time were any guests at risk.

"Given this was outside of our control and we had no indication of when power would be restored, the decision was made to close the park and guests were given complimentary tickets to return to the park on another date."

A spokesperson for EDF Energy, the company responsible for electricity supply in the area, revealed that a fault with an underground high-voltage cable was to blame for the power failure, which affected several thousand customers in the Leatherhead area.

In a statement, EDF Energy said: "We appreciate how difficult it can be to lose power, especially during a holiday season, and we would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by this incident."

EDF Energy also confirmed that power had been fully restored to the affected area by 15:06pm, with the theme park operating as normal today (18 August).

However, London Fire Brigade also said that it had been called to attend a similar incident days earlier when around 50 people had to be rescued after a power failure.

A spokesperson for London Fire Brigade said: "Two fire engines and around ten firefighters were called to a ride power failure at the theme park on Leatherhead Road, Chessington, on 15 August.

"Around 50 people were safely brought to the ground level by firefighters using ladders and a cherry picker."

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