Two women found dead in a hotel room are suspected of committing double suicide, police said.
The women, one aged in her 30s the other in her 50s, were found in a bedroom of the Costello Palace Hotel in Finsbury Park, north London, just before lunchtime yesterday.
The discovery of a powder in the room prompted police to evacuate the hotel and close off roads in the surrounding area in what emergency services described as a chemical incident.
Officers from London Fire Brigade were seen entering the building in decontamination suits and specialist breathing apparatus.
At the height of the operation more than 15 emergency service vehicles were clustered outside the hotel.
Guests staying at the hotel at the weekend said they thought the bodies of the women had only been discovered late yesterday morning.
Graham Cannon (43) from Halstead, Essex, came to London to watch a music concert.
He said: “I’ve been coming here for six years. It’s cheap and cheerful, it’s only £65 for a double room and it’s really convenient if you want to go into the centre of London.
“We came down for breakfast this morning at about 8.30 and it was absolutely packed.
“Nothing seemed wrong at all then. We were laughing and joking with the manager, everything was normal.
“You don’t have to check out of here until 11 so I suppose the staff didn’t even find the bodies until after then.”
Mr Cannon’s friend Perry Williamson (48) and also from Halstead, added: “We went for a walk after breakfast and we only realised that something was badly wrong when we came back to get the car at lunchtime.
“The place was all taped off and there were police and fire brigade everywhere.”
Eileen Early (43) from Great Dunmow, Essex, said: “It’s just awful when you think about it. It’s such a shock to realise that this has gone on while we were inside the hotel.”
Around 70 people are thought to have been staying at the Costello Palace.
Speaking earlier yesterday a spokeswoman for London Fire Brigade said: “We are treating this as a confirmed chemical incident.
“The hotel has been evacuated and cordon implemented.”
The roads near the hotel were reopened at around 5pm yesterday.
A Met police spokeswoman said: “Police were called at 11.53am to Costello Palace Hotel, Seven Sisters Road, after two people were found deceased.”
The two bodies were expected to be removed from the scene last night.