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Tower Hamlets LBC housing staff walked through bomb wreckage to provide emergency services in the wake of last week...
Tower Hamlets LBC housing staff walked through bomb wreckage to provide emergency services in the wake of last week's IRA bomb attack in London Docklands.

Gill Cooney, Tower Hamlets' area estates officer for the Isle of Dogs, said staff who lived on the island reached the devastated Barkentine estate two hours after the 7pm explosion.

'They worked on a volunteer basis throughout the weekend, but I think some overtime payment really will have to be made,' said Ms Cooney. 'We did what had to be done with no worry about who had the stripes.'

Visits by Prince Charles and environment secretary John Gummer on Tuesday boosted morale, especially when Mr Gummer announced that funding for a £24 million redevelopment of the estate, now into phase two, would be released immediately.

This could bring forward completion by four years. Redevelopment work already completed was relatively unscathed, Ms Cooney said.

The visits eased local bitterness about media concentration on the impact on empty office blocks.

Ms Cooney welcomed Mr Gummer's announcement but warned that additional funding would be required to repair more than 650 homes.

There was some good news to emerge from the bombing when the housing department cancelled three evictions to concentrate on the crisis.

'We felt it would add insult to injury to evict people who have been bombed out of their homes,' Ms Cooney said.

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