Power cuts at the heart of London's West End have left thousands of people without electricity on one of the hottest days of the year. Businesses have been urged to switch off air conditioning, Oxford Circus Tube station had to shut and tills and lights went off in shops. Power is being cut off in different parts of Soho for four hours at a time.

Energy supplier EDF said four faults had hit the network, compounded by high demand for air-conditioning. Power has been rationed and there were three scheduled four-hour power cuts starting with Carnaby Street in the morning.

Some of the affected companies evacuated their buildings because it was becoming too hot inside, and many employees went home. Piccadilly Circus's giant illuminated signs and traffic lights went out, and Oxford Circus Tube station was forced to close for an hour at lunchtime. The station re-opened thanks to London Underground's back-up supply, a Transport for London spokesman said.