Residents have been evacuated from their homes after a major gas main leak has closed a busy junction.

The gas main, understood to be about 36 inches in diameter, is leaking in Eastwood Road near to the Old Vienna Restaurant in Leigh A number of homes have been evacuated due to the incident.

Stephen Aylen, Independent councillor for Belfairs said: "Gas engineers, emergency vehicles, fire and police in attendance.

"There are road closures and traffic diversions in place.

"There are possible evacuations.

"This is regarded as a major incident."

The incident has also forced business to close early.

Pizza takeaway firm, All Fired Up, Eastwood Road North, Leigh posted on Facbeook: "Sorry folks no pizza.

"Eastwood Road North is being shut off from the roundabout to the traffic lights due to a major gas leak, and to be fair standing next to my wood oven and the smell of gas is not a good combo."

"Back tomorrow."

A Southend Council spokesman said: "Our emergency planning team have been made aware of a major gas leak in Eastwood Road, close to the Old Vienna roundabout.

" Blue light services are leading the response and we are supporting as necessary. Traffic diversions are in place."

Three fire crew were called to the incident, on arrival firefighters quickly set up a cordon and evacuated surrounding houses as a precautionary measure.

They also confirmed there was no hazard to the public at ground level.

At 7pm crews reported that Cadent Gas were working to manage the fracture and firefighters were standing by to ensure the scene was safe.

At 8.10pm the Incident Commander reported that Cadent Gas were making good progress and firefighters were continuing to stand by.

A spokesman for Cadent said "We have got a leak in a medium pressure gas main and have got engineers on site.

"We understand a number of homes in Eastwood Road have been evacuated. We are aiming to get it fixed and get people back in their homes tonight.

"Eastwood Road is closed and we are hoping to have it open for rush hour tomorrow morning."

Essex Police was contacted for comment.