Work is suspended on east London section of rail link after tunnelling disturbs 19th-century wells.
Tunnelling work on a section of the £5.2bn Channel Tunnel Rail Link may be halted for up to a month after a 10 m deep hole opened up last week in Stratford, east London.

The hole, which appeared on Saturday above workers tunnelling 20 m below ground, has since been filled with 700 tonnes of concrete to make the area safe.

A construction worker for Costain said the client had informed contractors of the delay. He said: "CTRL has told us that work will be halted for at least a month." Costain is part of a joint venture with Skanska and Bachy Soletanche.

A CTRL spokesperson, however, refused to be drawn on how long the project will be delayed. "Work will only resume when we know the full results of the investigation. We need to be sure why the hole opened up and be certain that it won't happen again."

A meeting between CTRL officials, Newham council and residents of Lavender Street was due to be held this week to discuss the situation.

Angry residents were eager to raise the question of compensation for the damage caused to their gardens. Mrs Benjamin, a resident of Lavender Street, had to be evacuated to a local hotel after the incident. She told Building: "My entire garden shed disappeared into the ground and I had to cancel a holiday because of this mess. Who is going to pay for that?"

CTRL has accepted liability for the incident, which initial reports suggest was caused when a boring machine disturbed a network of 19th-century wells. The CTRL spokesperson said: "Any structural damage caused by the work will be put right by us."

"It is far too early to put a figure on compensation. We will be discussing claims for personal losses," the spokesperson added.

The joint venture was awarded the £125m CTRL section in February 2001. The scheme will link north London to the Channel Tunnel terminal at Ashford in Kent. The new line is set to open in 2007.