Belfast Telegraph

Hoax alert in south Belfast hits Christmas shopping

By Rebecca Black

A security alert at a south Belfast supermarket was declared an elaborate hoax.

Tesco at Newtownbreda was evacuated at around 2pm yesterday as hordes of shoppers were picking up their Christmas essentials.

It is understood a suspicious object was left at the petrol station.

Army bomb experts inspected it and declared it a hoax.

The Belvoir and Newtownbreda Roads were closed for a number of hours, causing long tailbacks.

Belfast grandmother Kim Fenton was one of scores of shoppers forced to abandon her trolley during the evacuation.

She described the scene as "chaotic".

"We had a trolley full and the next thing it was announced over the Tannoy that everyone had to evacuate the building," she said.

"We had been in the line for the till so we just had to leave everything there."

Ms Fenton is in a wheelchair and said there was very little help or organisation from police of staff for her and some elderly people who needed to use the lifts to get out.

"There was absolutely no organisation, I am in a wheelchair, so there wasn't any staff guiding us to where we should go," she said. "It was absolute bedlam. Mayhem, like a comedy show."

Kevin McKinney had been helping his mum pick up some groceries for Christmas when the store was evacuated.

He said he noticed a police officer coming into the store and next thing the announcement asking shoppers to leave.

South Belfast Alliance MLA Anna Lo said: "At this busy time of year those behind this incident have caused significant fear among the local community."

A Tesco spokesman said: "We are aware of an incident which took place at our store on Newtonbreda Road in south Belfast this afternoon. The store has now reopened to customers."

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