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Thu 5 Jun 2014 02:55 PM

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Qatar-backed Shard skyscraper in London evacuated

At least 50 firefighters and seven fire engines on the scene after reports of smoke in basement after lightning struck the tip of Western Europe’s tallest tower

Qatar-backed Shard skyscraper in London evacuated

Western Europe's tallest skyscraper, London’s the Shard, which was built with money from Qatar's royal family, was evacuated on Thursday after it was reportedly struck by lightning and smoke was seen coming from the basement.

According to reports in the UK, the London Fire Brigade was called to the building, close to London Bridge, at 10.30am local time.

A spokesman said 50 firefighters and seven fire engines were at the scene and said no injuries had been reported.

"We are investigating reports of smoke, but there is no suggestion of a fire at this stage. Firefighters from Soho, Dockhead, Old Kent Road, Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Lambeth fire stations are at the scene," the spokesman was quoted by the London Evening Standard newspaper.

The Met Police also confirmed a full evacuation is underway at the scene.

There have been rain and hail storms across the UK on
Thursday. Sky News reported a photo taken at the moment the lightning bolt
struck the tip of the 87-storey tower, which stands at 306 metres.

Visitors to the observation deck on the 72nd floor
reported being terrified as a flash of light hit the building above them.

The Shangri La Hotel, which occupied floors 34 to 52, had
only opened last month.

It was reported in February that half of the tower’s 26
floors for offices had been let, while eight floors of apartments were not yet
ready for tenants.

The Shard was last week awarded the Emporis Skyscraper Award from a choice of 300 shortlisted towers.

The 306m tall winning building, designed by the architect Renzo Piano, won over the jury thanks to its unique glass fragment-shaped form and its sophisticated architectural implementation.

The Shard which had been 13 years in the planning, struggled with financing after the 2008 credit crunch until the Qatari family rescued the project.

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