- Surface-to-air missiles could be placed in the city, the government says
- Residents of the area are shocked by the plan, one says
- A local questions how high-velocity missiles could be used safely in the city
- London hosts the Olympics and the Paralympics this summer
The British Ministry of Defence might place surface-to-air missiles on a water tower in a densely populated London neighborhood as part of security for the Olympic Games this summer, a ministry official said Sunday.
Residents in an east London community have received leaflets warning them of the possibility, the official said.
"Site evaluations and exercises have taken place," the official said.
A former water tower within the Bow Quarter gated private estate would be the location for the proposed missiles. Bow Quarter is a former match factory containing a number of large buildings, converted into hundreds of residential flats and houses.
"Ground-based air defense systems could be deployed as part of a multi-layered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the Games," said the official, asking not to be named in line with British government practice.
Brian Whelan, who got one of the leaflets about the possible missile system, said he was "absolutely shocked."
"This is a highly built-up area. I can't imagine any situation in which you could safely use a high-velocity missile over Tower Hamlets," as the neighborhood is called, said Whelan.
There is "obviously the security issue around the Olympics," he conceded, but said missiles would be an overreaction.
"This is meant to be reassuring, but it creates a lot of anxiety for me," he said.
London is hosting the 2012 Olympics from July 27 to August 12 and the Paralympics from August 29 to September 9.