- By Stephen Stafford
- BBC News
A London Eye passenger has described the “harrowing” moment a roof hatch began to blow off in high winds.
David Nock, from Bournemouth, was on the 135m-high (443ft) tourist attraction on Tuesday as Storm Henk hit.
He said the roof hatch started to come off with “an almighty creak”.
London Eye said there had been an “isolated technical issue” and it had closed for a brief period due to adverse weather conditions.
Mr Nock had been on a sightseeing tour of London with Australian family members.
He said he was aware of media reports about the impending storm but was not unduly concerned about boarding the wheel.
“[The wind] was blowing, but not ridiculous amounts. I don’t think we were totally fazed. It really took hold when we were right at the top – it started blowing a hooley.
“There was an escape hatch on the roof of the pod – at some point that made an almighty creaking bang and got ripped off,” he said.
‘Saying his prayers’
He said the pod stopped for “a good five minutes”, and with the hatch still partially attached, Mr Hock said they were concerned about it blowing off altogether.
“We were gauging the severity of the incident. There are moments when the wind is very strong and very noisy up there.
“It’s a slightly nerve-wracking experience anyway, but at the moment a hatch blows off, things get a little more nerve-wracking. One guy was saying his prayers – he was very nervous indeed.”
As the pod descended, Mr Nock said there was a “crunching” sound as the detached hatch got caught up with other parts, prompting him to press the emergency button to alert staff.
Everyone in the pod got off unharmed when it reached ground level.
“We really were there at the eye of the storm – it was a harrowing experience,” Mr Nock added.
London Eye said: “Following an isolated technical issue, our expert technical team immediately ensured that guests safely disembarked and conducted further rigorous checks before reopening the attraction that evening.
“We can confirm that no parts of the pod detached from the main structure and that no guests were injured.”
Originally built to mark the millennium, the cantilevered observation wheel has become one of the capital’s most popular tourist attractions and is the focus for London’s annual new year fireworks displays.