Thousands of people were evacuated from Westfield Stratford shopping centre in London earlier on Thursday evening (18 August) following initial rumours of a fire.

Shoppers reported hearing alarms ringing throughout the centre, prompting crowds of people to exit the area and stores to be closed. Several people shared images of chaotic scenes on social media, with some assuming that the exodus had been caused by a blaze.

"There's a fire in Westfield and we're being evacuated," one person tweeted. "Just evacuated from Westfield. Alarms going off, police and lots of people wonder what happened???." Said another.

According to the Mirror third witness added: "On our way to get our train, walking through Westfield and we all get evacuated because there's a fire. Crazy."

Stand-up comedian Ariane Sherine was among those caught up in the drama this evening. " Bit scary!" she tweeted.

A tweet was later posted on the official Twitter account for Westfield shopping centre, which confirmed the evacuation was sparked by a leak and not by fire.

"There was a partial evacuation this evening due to a leak. The issue has now been resolved and we are open for business as usual."

Others expressed concern that the evacuation was poorly managed. "That evacuation process was a shambles. No info, no staff, no clue.God help customers if something serious actually happened," said one concerned shopper.