1 May 1997 Edition

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£100 million losses from IRA actions

Britain's transport industry has claimed a minimum of £30 million losses as a result of bomb alerts which seriously disrupted traffic in southern England on Tuesday 29 April. The Freight Transport Association said the continuing IRA campaign could eventually cost as much as £100 million, push up transport costs and discourage foreign investment.

After similar coded warnings and two bomb explosions last Friday 25 April, motorways and airports were closed again this week.

Heathrow, Gatwick and Southampton airports were all evacuated on Monday.

During last week's disruption, which sparked talk of unprecedented security measures for polling day, the continuing IRA campaign left a trail of chaos across northern and southern England.

Last Friday's disruption, which crippled the motorway system in the midlands and closed Birmingham's main railway station and Luton airport also caused sections of the M1 and M18 in Leicestershire, Nottingham and South Yorkshire to be closed. Effectively both east and western main road routes were cut. Birmingham's New Street railway station was closed off and evacuated at 7.45am. This closure affected Cross Country, West Coast main line and North London railway services.

In a double bomb attack at 8.30am on the M6 at junction 10A, which blew off the bottom sections of an electricity pylon carrying 132,000 volts, junctions 7 and 11 were closed as was the M54 link to the M6. The pylon was situated 400m from junction 10A and two concrete blocks which surrounded the base of the two legs nearest the motorway were blown away. Several minutes separated the two explosions.

Friday saw what was described as ``massive disruption'' and the ``worst ever example of maximum transport chaos'' after a fresh wave of coded IRA bomb alerts.

These closed sections of the M1, M3, M26, M27, A20, and M25 which circles London. With motorways closed to the ports of Dover and Southampton ferries were reporting increasing freight and passenger cancellations.

The IRA in statement this week using a recognised codeword to RTE's Dublin newsroom claimed responsibility for the M6 pylon bomb attack.

As we go to press reports are coming in of further bomb alerts on both the M6 and M69. The entire length of the M69 is being searched while junctions 1 and 2 on the M6 are also being examined as are nearby electricity pylons.

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