At least eight people have been injured tonight in a massive acid attack after a gang of men sprayed a noxious substance into crowds near a shopping centre.
Police and paramedics rushed to the Stratford Shopping Centre in east London at 8pm after the gang sprayed crowds there and in the next door tube station.
Those reported injured were believed to be in a number of different locations.
At least five patients were treated at the scene, and three of them were taken to hospital, Paul Gibson of the London Ambulance Service said.
No-one is thought to have life-threatening or life-changing injuries.
Police have ruled out terrorism and arrested one man on suspicion of GBH. Witnesses claimed the substance was thrown by “young black teenage males” after an argument broke out.
Witnesses described the panic in the moments after the mass attack as injured people hurried to wash their faces and limbs with water.
A Burger King assistant manager who gave his name as Hossen, 28, said he saw a victim and his friend run into the restaurant bathroom “to wash acid off his face.”
He said, “There were cuts around his eyes and he was trying to chuck water into them.”
Inside the Burger King toilets water could be seen all over the floor along with toilet tissue and medical gloves.
Witness Zak Abdi, who had been shopping with friends, told Mirror Online. “I was about to leave the station and a few guys were scattering, and there were guys on the floor in agony, with their friends all around them.”
He said he saw a group of men running away from the police after the acid “hit a group of men who looked like they were en route to a club.”
He heard one man shouting, “I can’t see, I can’t see, I can’t see” after being splashed in the face.
Mr Abdi added, “Everyone was just jumping out of the way, trying to escape the whole thing. It was a scary moment for everyone.”
Imrana begum, 18, was working in Primark in Westfield when the attack happened.
She said, “It is a huge shock, even though more of these attacks are happening. I was folding clothes and suddenly everyone was like be careful, be careful there’s been a huge acid attack. Apparently people could hear screaming.”
The number of acid attacks taking place in Britain is soaring, with school children as young as 13 using corrosive substances as weapons.
Crime statistics show that there was more than 450 acid attacks in London alone last year, with the number of attacks in the capital more than doubling since 2014.
But experts say the real figure is much higher, with the true scale of the problem hidden because people are afraid to come forward.
It is believed criminal gang members are carrying acid in drinks bottles because they are less likely to get caught than if they carry a knife or gun.
Anyone caught carrying acid will now be charged with carrying an offensive weapon — the same charge used to convict people unlawfully carrying a knife or a gun.
Thugs carrying acid face four years in jail while those who throw it could get life behind bars.