Published: 14:22, 04 November 2018
| Updated: 09:12, 05 November 2018
Shoppers ran from Bluewater shopping centre after a 'loud bang' was heard near the food court.
Videos posted on social media showed dozens of people heading towards exits at the shopping centre as alarms sounded.
But the mass panic seems to have been a false alarm caused by a sign falling over.
Eleanor Perkins, who was there at the time, said: "It was just a feeling of sheer panic. So so terrifying.
"Out of nowhere people just started shouting ‘run’, ‘go’ and everyone followed. It was manic.
"I was in H&M home a different shop to my mum and sister so stood still thinking what on earth do I do. I didn’t want to go outside without them. Everyone else ran to the back of the shops and were let out of the fire exit to a courtyard area. And the doors were locked behind us. Everyone was just asking what’s going on.
"We weren’t allowed back in for about five minutes."
She added: "I called my mum and they were still inside and told me it was a false alarm so immediately felt calmer.
"They said that some people were told to stay in the shops while security pulled the shutters down.
"Dinners were just abandoned. My heart is still racing but I’m so relieved it was a false alarm."
One shopper posted on social media that she had helped a woman and her children get away from the area.
Steve Wright was in the food court at the time: "Everyone was naturally on high alert not knowing what caused the noise.
"A few seconds later a table of teenage boys shouted ‘run’, presumably as some odd joke. I looked over at them and they were laughing. Still everyone remained seated whilst looking around. Then they went again and shouted either ‘run’ or ‘bomb’ I don’t remember which.
"At this point a few people started to leave. Within about 10 seconds mass hysteria had kicked in and people were running, tables were knocked over and the fire alarm sounded - presumably as the fire door was opened.
"Many people including ourselves decided to head back to the car and go home.
"It’s interesting how an innocent bang followed by a ‘joke’ by some teenagers can cause this."
A spokesman for Kent Police said: "A sign has fallen down causing a loud bang. Nothing to worry about, no one injured."
More by this authorKentOnline reporter