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Panic rooms in palace on Laden fear

London, Jan. 12: Fears of an attack by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida have prompted Queen Elizabeth II to instal “panic rooms” at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

The high-security rooms are encased in 45-centimeter thick steel walls and are designed to protect senior members of the royal family from poison gas, bomb attacks or assassination by terrorists, The Sunday Times reported. The newspaper said the rooms are equipped with secure communications, beds and washing facilities, and are stocked with enough food and hot water for the royals to survive for at least a week.

The report said the new rooms cost £1 million and replaced smaller, sparsely furnished rooms already in existence at both royal residences. The new rooms have been built following a security review after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, it said.

The shell of each room is a bullet-resistant and fire-retardant steel core made of reinforced metal with an inner layer of carbon fiber, the newspaper said. The rooms would be able to withstand a mortar attack and possibly a direct hit by a light aircraft.

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