A branch of McDonalds in Southend On Sea was dramatically evacuated this afternoon after an apple pie in the store’s pastry cabinet erupted during the lunchtime rush.

Shortly after 12.45pm on Thursday, concerned members of staff at the London Road restaurant phoned 999 and evacuated staff and customers from the premises after a catering assistant spotted molten liquid flowing across the floor.

A witness said: ‘I had just collected a Big Mac and fries, when all of a sudden I heard screaming from behind the counter and lots of people started running away from the dessert preparation area.’

‘I noticed a sugary lava flowing down one of the metal counters, and a few seconds later the entire cabinet collapsed in a heap on the floor. We were all told to leave the premises immediately, and when I got into the car park I noticed that the chip fryers were falling into an expanding crater in the tiles – it was like something from The China Syndrome.’

‘A specialist incident team arrived at 1.05pm and covered the entire restaurant in some kind of foam, and by 3pm engineers had encased the building in a giant concrete overcoat.’

A spokesperson for McDonalds told us that the restaurant would now be closed for some time.

He added: ‘Unfortunately when one of our apple pies overheats and erupts, uthe resulting lava has a half-life of 400 years before it reaches a temperature that is safe for human contact.’

Therefore, this branch of McDonalds will be closed for the foreseeable future. We have issued urgent training guidance to all of our branches to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.’

In a late development, a corner shop in North Road, Westcliff was closed for three hours this afternoon after a Ginsters Steak Bake became self-aware and attempted to rob the store at gun point.