Entertainment

Storm Eunice winds shred O2 arena roof

Peter Parnham

Sections of the fabric roof of London's O2 arena have been shredded by the strength of Storm Eunice's winds, causing the venue to close.

Opened in 2000, and formerly known as the Millennium Dome, the landmark in Greenwich, south-east London, has been damaged by gusts of up to 80mph.

The building has been evacuated and will be shut for the rest of Friday.

"The safety of our visitors remains of paramount importance," the O2 said in a statement.

"We will continue to assess the ongoing situation and act accordingly," a spokesperson added.

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The venue was renamed the O2 in 2007 and hosts concerts and sporting events. It contains a cinema and a range of shops and restaurants.

Primary school teacher Lucy Sloman described hearing a "big bang" before being ushered away by security.

O2 arena roof shreddedPA Media

She told the BBC: "I looked up to see part of the roof had ripped. My parents were quite shaken."

The band Simply Red, who had been scheduled to play a concert this weekend which was cancelled due to Covid, described the developments as "tragic".

Dome update – six panels shredded and counting ! pic.twitter.com/p2AVhf17Ly

— Ben Hubbard (@BJFHubbard) February 18, 2022

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Originally intended as an "international icon" when opened by Tony Blair's Labour government, the Millennium Dome project cost £789m – and tens of millions more to maintain following its closure at the end of 2000.

The structure, which later transferred into private hands, was the scene of a foiled diamond robbery, which police said would have been the world's biggest.

The O2 in 2014PA Media

The dome also featured in dramatic opening scenes to the 1999 James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough.

An O2 spokesperson said: "Due to today's adverse weather conditions, we can confirm that there has been some damage caused to the tent fabric in our roof at the O2. The affected areas have been cleared and the O2 will remain closed for the rest of the day."

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