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Woman injured in street hole fall

A woman was taken to hospital after she disappeared with a shopping trolley into a hole which opened up in a busy high street.

Passers-by said they heard a loud scream and turned round to see the woman had fallen down the hole outside a cafe in Fulham, west London.

Locals and cafe staff rushed outside to help the woman, who stumbled into the 3ft (1m) wide crevice just before 9am this morning.

It came shortly after a man fell down the hole and twisted his ankle, locals said.

The area around the hole had been blocked off with tables and chairs early this morning in an attempt to stop passers-by walking into it, stall holders said.

But despite shouts by cafe staff, the woman is said to have squeezed through the chairs and fallen down the hole.

A flower stall owner, who asked not to be named, said: "A man came running out of the cafe.

"The hole had been blocked off with tables and chairs but she had squeezed through and went straight down.

"She didn't have a pram or a buggy, it was a shopping trolley.

"The shop owner was shouting out to her 'Don't come through there'.

"We looked over and she was down, all the way down the hole. She had walked onto it and it had collapsed beneath her."

He and other stall holders dashed over to help the woman, who is believed to be in her 40s.

The stall holder said: "The gentleman came out of the cafe to help her. He was really, really worried.

"By then we were all over there talking to the woman as she was getting up.

"It looked like more bricks could fall on her so we were telling her to get out.

"She was shaky standing up and then went into the cafe."

Kate Sissons posted pictures of the hole in the ground on her Instagram account and wrote: "OMG! Poor woman and pram just disappeared down this hole on North End Rd. She's stuck down there."

She added: "It just happened! Loud scream and all I could see was the pram. Ambulance and fire on way to get her out. Scary. V v (sic) scary."

Another stall holder, who asked not to be named, said: "I saw a man fall down the hole first.

"He didn't go all the way down, but he looked like he had twisted his ankle. He was hobbling afterwards. That was at around 8.30am."

An ambulance and police rushed to the scene.

Mohammed Atillah, who works in the cafe, said he was outside talking to the man who stumbled down the hole earlier, when the woman walked through the makeshift barrier and fell down it.

He held on to her as she dangled down, and then lowered her down as the hole connected to a basement.

He said: "The man said to me his left foot, the back bone of it was broken. He said 'Look what happened'.

"I could see a small hole. I put the tables and chairs so no-one would come through.

"A lady was passing down the street, she came into the middle of the tables and fell down the hole. She had put her foot in and was in.

"She fell down, and I held her. I was scared to let go."

He said he lowered her down the hole and she walked back up to the cafe via the basement and stairs.

The London Ambulance Service said: "We were called at 8.53am to North End Road, Fulham, to reports of a woman fallen through a hole in the pavement.

"We sent an ambulance crew to the scene.

"The patient was shaken but not seriously injured and we took her to Charing Cross Hospital."

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokeswoman said: "Nobody has reported a sag in the road to us and we don't think there is any evidence it has been sagging at all.

"The council's structural engineer has carried out an initial investigation of the basement collapse in North End Road and secured the site.

"The freeholder of the property is legally responsible for the structural integrity of their basement but we are carrying out a full review of what's happened and will ensure the site is made safe and all necessary actions are taken once we have a full understanding of how this occurred."

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