A demolition firm has been left to pick up the pieces after a cliff collapsed onto their premises, damaging buildings, vehicles and machinery.
Emergency services were called last night when a section of cliff beside the A226 Galley Hill Road in Swanscombe, fell away, taking a section of road with it and sliding down towards Manor Way Business Park below.
The collapse is thought to have been triggered after a large 150mm mains pipe burst yesterday, sending hundreds of tons of rock and debris onto a site occupied by demolition firm Lancebox, based in Manor Way.
Ronnie Pearce, who works for the family firm, received a call from his dad last night to say the cliff had given way.
Ronnie said: "I had to rush up here in my sliders. The first thing I wanted to do was get the gates open and get all the lorries we had out here inside, but once I opened the shutter I realised I can't salvage anything in there.
"There's a risk of it becoming worse and falling on top of me. It was chaos, the police cars were outside waiting for the fire brigade to turn up.
"They had a look around inside and said it's not safe to be in here. The water was still coming down from the cliff, even when we got here there were bits still falling down.
"I wasn't scared but I thought it was best to not be stood under here, best to get out of here and let them do what they've got to do, and leave it to the legal side, whatever's going to happen.
"Originally they said we can't be here but we've still got businesses to run, no one's paying us if we're not open. So we've got to just carry on as normal and hopefully this gets sorted out."
Jake Hughes, who works as an estimator for the firm, admitted there was an irony to the fact a demolition firm had taken the brunt of the collapse, but few on site were laughing too hard about it.
With engineers still assessing the cliff, the company was waiting to hear whether it would have to move from the site.
"Nothing has been said to us about what's happening moving forward," he said. "We've got a business to run, but we're in limbo because we don't know what we're going to do.
"Everyone's who's based down here now is going to be a bit apprehensive, because it's a fair chuck of the road that came down. It's lucky no one was hurt."
Jake said the collapse had destroyed much of the workshop, caving in the roof, burying a van and damaging machinery and materials.
Bob Arnold, of Ace Car Breakers, also located on Manor Way, said: "It hasn't damaged anything of mine but it looks like they've lost a couple of buildings and whatever's inside.
"But on the next breath it's what they're going to do and how long it's going to take. You can see the lines where the water leak was, you normally get little bits fall off the front but this looks major.
"No one's told me anything but to be fair to them who would expect that to happen in such a short space of time? I'm not that worried at the minute, I understand there's not a lot anyone can do."
Meanwhile the road above, near to the old George and Dragon pub, on the corner of London Road and Swanscombe High Street, remains closed by police.
Kent County Councillor for Swanscombe and Greenhithe Peter Harman said: "It will take a long time to resolve, the timeframe is weeks or months.
"Some areas lost their water supply, and some have also lost broadband supply."
The councillor added the top of the hill has water supplied by Thames Water, while the bottom of the hill is supplied by Southern Water, so the two companies are now working together to join the pipes up for a temporary supply.
He said Kent County Council is also working with Southern Water on traffic diversions to avoid bottlenecks.
There has already been problems with lorries going down the narrow back streets.
Cllr Harman added: "The official diversion does not go that way but drivers, especially if they aren't familiar with the area, can end up going the wrong way.
"It will be a lot of work to reinforce the cliff, as the quarry is about 100ft deep."
Bus routes including the 480, 490, and Fasttrack B have also been affected.
A Thames Water spokesman said: “On Monday, April 10, we responded to reports of a large burst water main on Galley Hill Road (A226).
"Our engineers have shut off the water supply from the affected mains pipe and we are keeping local customers’ taps flowing using tankers.
“We are working alongside the local authority who are assessing the road structure and will liaise with them to plan and carry out the repair.
“The police have closed the road and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to local residents and motorists during this time.”