Dozens of families were forced to leave their homes for most of the day yesterday during a security alert in Derry’s Waterside.

Police last night described the object which was found near a flat in Crannog Drive in Strathfoyle as a hoax.

At around 11:30am yesterday residents in the area were told to leave their homes in the street following the discovery of a suspicious object

An area around a flat was subsequently sealed off and army technical officers were tasked to the scene.

Police remained in the area for most of the day as specialist robot equipment was used to carry out an examination of the area.

Families in the area - many of them with young children - had no access to their homes for six hours. Most were allowed back into their homes shortly before 6pm last night. One mother, who did not wish to be named, said: “We were just told to get ready and leave very quickly.”

Another local woman said residents had been left shocked by the incident.

She described the Crannog Park area as “somewhere quiet.”

Foyle SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said the alert had caused great distress for people living there.

“It’s unacceptable that people were forced to leave their homes and particularly in such atrocious weather,” said. Mr Ramsey.

Sinn Fein Councillor for the area, Paul Fleming, condemned those responsible for the security alert.

He added: “The person or persons who did this caused undue distress and disruption to residents in the area who neither deserve or want to see this kind of thing happening.”