East London MPs told the Guardian they were put on lockdown after five people were killed, including a police officer, in an attack outside Parliament.

This afternoon, an attacker hit several pedestrians as he drove a grey Hyundai i40 across Westminster Bridge before crashing it into railings then running through the gates of the Palace of Westminster and stabbing the officer.

The man was shot and killed on site by police. The injured officer, named by the Met as PC Keith Palmer, was also pronounced dead at the scene. 

Police have also confirmed the attacker was known to them.  

Three people died after pedestrians were hit by the vehicle at Westminster Bridge with many others receiving "catastrophic injuries". 

At least 40 people in total have been injured, including one woman who was pulled alive from the River Thames.

There are rumours there could have been two people inside the car. One is described as black with a goatee beard, another was white, bald and carrying two knives.

Parliament was put on lockdown for several hours and an evacuation was delayed after police discovered a "suspicious" vehicle outside.

The MPs were later evacuated to Westminster Abbey.

Scotland Yard is treating what happened as a terror attack. 

Wanstead and Leyton representative MP John Cryer told the Guardian: "There's a lot of rumours going around there's someone still armed on the loose but that could change minute by minute.

"I don't know much to be honest, I just went outside. There's been a shooting in New Palace Yard but that's all really I know at the moment. I've been told to stay indoors."

An Air Ambulance landed at the scene while areas around Parliament were cordoned off to the public.

Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing told the Guardian: "I don't know anymore. I'm in a room, right away from it all."

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Police cordoned off Westminster Bridge (pic: PA)

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, said: “All of my team are safe and accounted for. We’re on lockdown in my office, I was on my way to vote on a pension’s bill just before 2.40pm.

“As I was walking it was clear there was a big commotion, lots of police officers and my colleagues going in the opposite direction.

“We were told to move back and to get back to our offices and wait here until further notice.”

Mike Gapes, Ilford South, told us: "I am next to the Central Lobby in Parliament, on lockdown. My staff are in their office, also on lockdown.

"We don't know what's going on. There's reports of a shooting and a car has driven into people, injuring them on Westminster Bridge.

"We were in the middle of voting on the pensions bill, when it all happened. We were ushered out  and until they've searched everywhere, we won't know what's going on."

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy's office has confirmed she and her staff are in Berlin today as a part of a delegation of Labour MPs meeting German politicians to discuss Brexit.

Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith’s assistant Rhona Spindley confirmed the former Tory leader was put on lockdown in the House of Commons chamber.

She told the Guardian: “We've been told to stay put so the team is stuck in the office.

"Iain said he is fine.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement his thoughts are with those affected and their families.

The London Eye was locked down by its operator, with tourists trapped on board. An evacuation of passengers has now begun.

Westminster Underground station has also been shut.

Police are asking people to avoid Parliament Square, Whitehall, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge; Victoria Street up to the junction with Broadway and the Victoria Embankment up to Embankment tube.

Commander BJ Harrington told the press outside Scotland Yard there are a "number of casualties including police officers" but would not speculate on numbers.

More to follow.