THOUSANDS of students have been sent home from Brockenhurst College because a flooded gas main has affected heating.

A total of 64 properties in the Lyndhurst Road and Balmer Lawn Road area, including two hotels, have lost gas supplies.

Engineers have been on site since 7.30pm last night but it is not known how long it will take to restore supplies to those affected.

A spokesman for Southern Gas Networks said: "We can now confirm that gas supplies have been lost to 64 properties and two hotels after water entered our network following third party damage.

"Our engineers worked through the night and have removed 7,000 litres of water from our network so far.

"To ensure everyone's safety as we work, two-way temporary traffic lights are in place in Lyndhurst Road outside Careys Manor Hotel.

"It's still too early to say how long it will take to restore the supply, but our engineers are working tirelessly to have this work completed as soon as possible.”

Gas supplies were turned off at the meter for safety reasons and householders have been kept informed.

The spokesman added: "If you have young children, some kind of disability, a long-term illness, are a bit older or live with someone who is, we have portable electric appliances available for cooking and heating. These can be obtained by calling 0800 912 1717 or contacting our staff on site.

"For security reasons our operatives and contractors all wear a visible photo ID badge. On it, there's a free telephone number you can call 24/7 to check they are genuine workers for us. If you are in any doubt please refuse entry and seek assistance from a neighbour or relative, or call the telephone number on the identification card."