Emergency services rushed to the scene after a car smashed through the front of an ice cream parlour on Southend seafront.

Staff and customers of the Rossi’s parlour, which is independently owned but sells Rossi ice cream, were forced to flee out of the path of the black Ford Focus as it careered through the shop window, made largely of wood and glass.

Police closed a 600 metre stretch of road, in Western Esplanade, Southend, and fire and ambulance crews rushed to the scene to help.

The ambulance service sent two ambulances to the scene and treated people injured in the crash.

A spokesman said: “We received a call today at 11.48am to reports of a crash where a car had hit a building in Western Esplanade.

“We had an ambulance officer and two ambulances on scene and treated three patients, two men and a woman.

“All three were assessed for a variety of minor injuries, none are thought to be serious or life-threatening.”

The driver, an elderly man, was thought to be parked in a bay in front of the parlour and was reversing out of the space.

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: “It looked like he was reversing out of the parking space and then there was a car coming towards him so he was forced to get out of the way.

“He must not have realised he was still in reverse and instead of going back into the space he ploughed through the front of the ice cream parlour.

“The parlour is usually quite busy as well so it’s lucky no one was really badly hurt.”

The manager and staff from Rossi’s were very shaken by the incident but miraculously no one received any serious injuries.

It is believed there were only a few customers in the shop at the time and one received a cut to their arm.

The driver and his female passenger remained on scene being treated for shock by the paramedics.

Rossi sent three staff members and refrigerated vans to the scene to help the parlour staff and try to save some of the cafe owner’s ice cream stock as the building was without power.

The car was recovered by a pick-up truck by 1pm but it is unclear whether structural damage has been done to the building.

Staff and customers were left very shaken after the car reversed through the shop front of the ice cream parlour.

Witnesses described the shop filling with black smoke after the crash as people made their way out of the building.

Margaret Evans, 68, was walking past shortly after the accident happened.

She said: “You could see smoke in the shop. The front window was completely smashed and the car had gone right to the back of the building.

“I have no idea how it could have happened. It’s such a shame as it’s right before the bank holiday.”

Colin Gray, chief executive of Rossi Ice Cream, sent staff members down to the scene to see if they could help.

He said: “The cafe staff were very shaken so we were happy to offer any support we could. 

“Apparently the shop filled with smoke and they couldn’t see which must have been terrifying.

“Three members of staff helped save the cafe’s ice cream stock as we sent refrigerated vans and offered to store it for them. We also offered to help clear up.

“They are a good customer of ours and in those circumstances you need all the support you can get.

“Our team are really relieved that no one was seriously injured and we hope the cafe can get sorted as soon as possible.”