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New Zealanders in London are trying to avoid the rioting which is spreading across the English city, and now into the country's second largest city, Birmingham.

London has entered its third night of disorder, with rioting spreading from Tottenham to Brixton, Hackney, Peckham, Enfield and Walthamstow, among other areas.

The violence started after a protest on Saturday against the police shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, escalated into a riot, with homes torched and two police cars and a double-decker bus set ablaze.

More than 200 people have been arrested, 35 police officers are reported to have been injured and police are promising to use London's extensive CCTV footage to make further arrests.


"It's all so mindless"

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said New Zealanders in London are advised to "avoid areas where civil unrest is occurring and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities".

Jared Boow lives in Peckham, where he said clouds of smoke have been drifting through the streets.

"Buildings and buses have been torched and now the main high street is cordoned off, apparently teenagers are walking up and down a 1km stretch of shops looting and destroying shops at will.

Mr Boew said the smell of the smoke, seeing police blocking streets, and hearing helicopters and sirens had been "very scary".

Smelling the smoke, seeing police blocking the main street as we passed the station where the train wouldn't stop, and hearing helicopters overhead and constant sirens has been very scary.

"Areas all around us that we know, pass through, shop in, or have lived in - Catford, Lewisham, Clapham, Camberwell, Croydon - all going up in smoke. It's like finding out Glenfield Mall, West City, Highbury, Ponsonby Road and Browns Bay are all being looted and destroyed simultaneously. I've lived in London for nearly nine years and have rarely felt threatened, but tonight I've been very shaken by this. It's all so mindless."

"Things are getting scary"


Aucklander Bridget Walsh, 26, lives in Hackney, where today's riots started up.
"We've been inside since about 4pm (4am NZT), after all the local shops started closing, and watched looters downstairs break into stores, followed by lines of riot police, vans, trucks and police horses, all from our bedroom window."

Aucklander Isla McKechnie, 25, who has been living in London for a year, said around 9pm local time (9am NZT) there were reports of 200 rioters at the end of her streets in Clapham Old Town.

Ms McKechnie said she has not seen the rioters but is not leaving her home.

"We're getting pretty tense about it now, things are getting scary," she said. "It's well and truly in our neighbourhood now."

Her boss told her "hundreds" of looters streaming past her work with stolen goods. The BBC reported the Curry's store, an electronic retailer, had been broken into, 50m from where she works in Clapham Junction.

"It is concerning but most people are taking the approach of getting home, staying away from the affected areas and waiting to see how it will develop. It hasn't been random violence so far, so much as random destruction," Ms McKechnie said.

"Because of the widespread nature of the rioting - the spread of it - it almost feels a little siege-like; though obviously the fear isn't for personal safety but for property and there's a real sense of waiting to see where this is going to end."

"The Kiwi community have all been calling around making sure people are safe at home and the general feeling now, is that this is opportunistic rioting."

One Kiwi, who didn't want to be named, told she had "never been more terrified", as there were a "huge group of masked guys outside my house".

Just an excuse to steal stuff

New Zealanders Samantha Holmes and Ashley Lowry spent the evening barricaded in their Clapham Junction home as police dispersed rioters on the street outside.

Ms Holmes said the looters broke into shops down the road and stole electronic gear in the early evening.

They were confronted by officers who were intent on protecting a police station in the area, she said.

"If we looked out our window we could see riot police blocking off the street trying to contain it."

Ms Holmes said she felt most at threat when a mob gathered outside her house around 9:30pm.

She said the looters no longer cared about the shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan that sparked the riots.

"It's now just an excuse to steal stuff. They're just going from place to place stealing things."

She said one of her friends was attacked by rioters last night while working as a photographer around the scenes of violence in London.

"But we're well locked in so we're good."

"Carnivalesque" mood

New Zealander Bevan Kay who lives in Hackney near where today's rioting began, said it had been hard to get home from work as both the underground train and bus routes were affected.

"Walking home there were hundreds of people also having to find their way home on foot," he said.

"Everyone was relaxed and just making their way as efficiently as possible. Everyone was calm. Besides the number of people and the odd siren the street was subdued."

Mr Kay said there had been a "carnivalesque" mood about and people appeared excited by the events, with people cycling between the "hot spots" with cameras and walking around with beers.

"As you can imagine it is hard to reconcile leaving home for work - having ironed my shirt and drunk a cup of coffee - to return ten hours later and see people swarming everywhere, helicopters, smoke and sirens."

Former Radio New Zealand journalist Willy Flockton told Morning Report streets in Peckham were strewn with broken glass and bricks.

Mr Flockton said a menswear store had been looted in the south London suburb, and people were running past with stolen clothes.

"All of the window displays ... all the clothes are gone, there are smouldering clothes on the footpaths around that area, there's a lot broken glass, a lot of broken bricks, and crowds of people standing around just waiting to see what happens next."