Former Gladstone residents close to Sydney siege

WHEN former Gladstone woman Lee McIvor tried to get out of her Sydney office yesterday she was stopped by emergency crews.

Ms McIvor works close to Martin Place, where a gunman stormed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe yesterday and took a number of customers and staff hostage.

The siege ended in the early hours of Tuesday when police stormed the cafe.

Two people died, including the gunman.

She said the streets had been bare at midday.

"I work at Elizabeth St, which is two blocks up," Ms McIvor told The Observer.

"I tried to get out of the building at noon and was informed by emergency personnel not to leave the building.

"The atmosphere in the office was jittery and everyone was astounded by what was happening."

At 12.30pm Ms McIvor's office staff of 200 were told to go home.

"There was a lot of tension and worry of people in the office and concern for people involved in the siege," she said.

"It's a bit sad that this is happening in Australia."

Gladstone resident of 20 years Sarah Jacobs was 700m from the siege at her financial services office in Sydney.

"I work in the city on Carrington St near Wynyard Station," she said.

"We were sent home at 3.30pm to avoid congestion.

"We were told not to go outside but apart from that it was business as usual."

Ms Jacobs, who is the daughter of Dudley Jacobs, said there wasn't a lot of panic at her office, but when she spoke to The Observer yesterday afternoon said she was holding out hope everyone would be safe.

"We were close enough (to the cafe) but we weren't in any immediate vicinity," she said.

She said some of her friends working in Martin Place were in lockdown mode or evacuated early  in the day.



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