A mir­a­cle no­body was killed

Irish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Vanessa Allen, Ja­son Groves and Is­abella Fish news@dai­ly­mail.ie

A HOME-MADE bomb that ex­ploded on a London Tube train yes­ter­day morn­ing failed to det­o­nate cor­rectly. Dozens of peo­ple were in­jured but there were no fa­tal­i­ties.

School­child­ren and commuters were squashed in like sar­dines, no one paid much at­ten­tion to the white bucket in a plas­tic bag yes­ter­day morn­ing.

Af­ter min­gling among the vic­tims, the ter­ror­ist who dropped the makeshift de­vice sim­ply slipped off the rush-hour Tube train in west London – leav­ing the timebomb at their feet.

Had it worked as in­tended, a mas­sive blast of fire would have killed dozens on the new, open-plan style train which – at 8.20am yes­ter­day – was close to its ca­pac­ity of nearly 1,000 peo­ple.

Mirac­u­lously, the main charge – ap­par­ently on a timer – failed to fully det­o­nate.

But the par­tial ex­plo­sion was still enough to cre­ate a giant fire­ball – and then pan­de­mo­nium. In a danger­ous stam­pede to es­cape, a preg­nant woman and school­child­ren were among those crushed.

Gil­lian Wix­ley, 36, who lives in Put­ney, was eight seats from the ex­plo­sion. She said: ‘It was chaotic: There was lots of peo­ple pan­ick­ing and peo­ple were in­jured due to the crush.

‘Ev­ery­one was very emo­tional. There was one boy, maybe age ten, who was com­mut­ing to school on his own. He was sit­ting on the floor sob­bing.

‘He was ob­vi­ously in shock and very scared. Ev­ery­one around him was try­ing to calm him down and help him.’

The train is reg­u­larly packed full of school­child­ren. The Ful­ham area serves at least three state sec­ondary schools: Ful­ham Boys School, The London Ora­tory and Lady Mar­garet Hall along with a num­ber of in­de­pen­dent schools.

Lady Mar­garet Hall school­girl Emanuella Men­sah, 16, de­scribed the panic.

‘I was right out­side the cor­ner shop when peo­ple started run­ning from the sta­tion. Peo­ple were shout­ing, “run, run”. I saw old peo­ple, peo­ple with their kids. Then some­one shouted “ter­ror­ist!” More peo­ple kept com­ing out of the sta­tion.’

Panic spread among pas­sen­gers within sec­onds of the blast and they be­gan tum­bling out on to the nar­row plat­form fear­ing that the whole train would blow up. Some were squashed against rail­ings as ev­ery­body headed for the only way out, a set of steps by the front of the train down to street level.

Louis Hather, 21, a com­puter pro­gram­mer, hurt his leg in the scram­ble to es­cape the train.

He said: ‘I was just on my nor­mal com­mute in and the train was rammed. We were stuck in like sar­dines. I was fac­ing away from the bomb when sud­denly I heard screams; they were the kind of screams that tell you some­thing se­ri­ous had hap­pened.

‘I im­me­di­ately thought, “There’s been a ter­ror at­tack.”

‘There was some­thing about the ur­gency in the way peo­ple were try­ing to get away that made me think that. There was a big crush on the stairs, with a pile-up about half­way down. Peo­ple were fall­ing over each other and be­ing stepped on. Some­how I man­aged to get out and into the street but my stuff was still inside.’

Ryan Bar­nett, 25, who was fur­ther up the train, re­called: ‘I was sit­ting there, headphones in, at Par­sons Green, the doors open fine, I’m not re­ally pay­ing at­ten­tion, and all of a sud­den hundreds of peo­ple run past me scream­ing a mix­ture of “stam­pede”, “at­tack”, “ter­ror­ist”, “ex­plo­sion”, “get off the train”, “ev­ery­one run”.’

He made it to the stair­case but stew­ards were shout­ing ‘stop, stop, stop’ and it turned into a pile-up of bod­ies.

Mr Bar­nett said: ‘Peo­ple were fall­ing over, peo­ple were faint­ing, peo­ple were cry­ing. There were lit­tle kids cling­ing on to the back of me.’ In the chaos, he said a preg­nant woman lost her shoes and fell over.

‘There was sheer pan­de­mo­nium and panic,’ added pas­sen­ger Neil White, while another wit­ness told LBC ra­dio: ‘I was help­ing a lady up and she was un­con­scious – she was just get­ting tram­pled.’

Amid the chaos a young boy was left cry­ing out for his brother. The young­ster, said to be no more than 11, was seen search­ing for his sib­ling as pan­icked commuters rushed from the west London sta­tion.

Olaniyi Shokunbi, 24, a fit­ness in­struc­tor, said: ‘There were peo­ple on the floor, there was a lit­tle boy, I re­ally felt sorry for him, he couldn’t have been more than 11. He had scratches on his head, shout­ing that he had lost his lit­tle brother. He was in his school uni­form. It was crazy.’

He added: ‘There was a woman on the floor. She couldn’t breathe. Peo­ple were scream­ing and cry­ing. I could see lit­tle kids ly­ing on the floor. They were try­ing to get out of the sta­tion but were over­pow­ered by adults in the stam­pede. They weren’t phys­i­cally strong enough.

‘There was a woman on the floor who was breath­ing but not mov­ing, in se­ri­ous pain.’

At first not ev­ery­one was alarmed. In a video clip of the scene one woman calmly re­marks: ‘Oh look, that bag’s on fire,’ as she passed the rem­nants of the bomb.

A mem­ber of staff told her: ‘Right guys, let’s get away, let’s move right down to the end of the plat­form.’

Adding to the panic were false re­ports of a knife­man on the loose. As commuters reached the bar­ri­ers at the bot­tom of the steps, some peo­ple were or­der­ing them to go back up.

Luke Walm­s­ley, a 33-year-old video editor, said: ‘It was com­plete pan­de­mo­nium, com­plete ter­ror. They didn’t open the gates and the Un­der­ground staff did not un­der­stand what was go­ing on. Peo­ple were shout­ing, “He’s got a knife! He’s got a knife!’’ I didn’t see any­one with a knife.’

He added: ‘In the im­me­di­ate sec­onds there were peo­ple run­ning and shout­ing, it was just like where do you run to? Peo­ple were rush­ing down the plat­form, ev­ery­one was do­ing a 100me­tre sprint. There were lots of in­juries from peo­ple be­ing tram­pled on.’

‘Kids were over­come by adults in the stam­pede’

Ac­coun­tant Sarah Hick­son, 31, who was on her way to work from Put­ney to Padding­ton, said: ‘I heard ev­ery­one scream­ing “Run, run, run!” and the whole Tube went into fran­tic panic. Ev­ery­one was sprint­ing for the exit and some­one was scream­ing, “There’s a man, there’s a man!” One per­son tried to climb over the rail­ings and over ev­ery­one else. It was to­tal chaos.

‘There was a preg­nant woman and a lit­tle boy of about ten. His face must have been crushed against the con­crete stairs be­cause when he stood up he had grazes all over his face. It was hor­ri­ble.’

She added: ‘Trans­port for London staff were do­ing their best to get con­trol but ev­ery­one was scream­ing, try­ing to get out.

‘Even­tu­ally they man­aged to get some calm and peo­ple moved ever so slightly back, al­low­ing the boy and preg­nant woman to get up.

‘I am phys­i­cally OK but shaken up, it was a scary ex­pe­ri­ence.’

In­surance bro­ker Grace Watts, 27, from Ful­ham, said: ‘Ev­ery­one was be­ing shoved and squashed then some­one at the bot­tom started shout­ing at us to get back up. It wasn’t a mem­ber of staff, but in the panic ev­ery­one as­sumed that there was an at­tack go­ing on out­side the sta­tion.’

Commuters on the train be­hind wit­nessed ter­ri­fied pas­sen­gers sprint­ing away up the tracks. Ni­cole Lin­nell, 29, who works for a fash­ion la­bel, said: ‘We saw peo­ple run­ning down the tracks. About 30 or 40 peo­ple.

‘Run­ning on the tracks is the last thing you want to do, so we were like, “What’s go­ing on?” Af­ter about an hour we were evac­u­ated off the train on to the tracks, about ten to 15 peo­ple at a time.’

Syl­vain Pen­nec, a soft­ware de­vel­oper from South­fields, near Wim­ble­don, who was a few yards from the ex­plo­sion, said commuters strug­gled to es­cape the car­riage ‘col­laps­ing and push­ing’ each other. BBC cor­re­spon­dent Riz La­teef, who was at the sta­tion trav­el­ling to work, said there was ‘panic as peo­ple rushed from the train’, adding: ‘Peo­ple were left with cuts and grazes from try­ing to flee the scene. There was panic.’

Another wit­ness, Sham, said he saw a man with blood all over his face. ‘There were loads of peo­ple cry­ing and shak­ing,’ he told BBC Ra­dio 5 Live.

‘There were a lot of peo­ple limp­ing and cov­ered in blood. One guy I saw, his face was cov­ered in blood – I’ve never seen any­thing like it.’

The first po­lice to ar­rive on the scene quickly picked up on the knife­man re­ports and ru­mours of a sec­ond de­vice. Com­muter Aaron But­ter­field said po­lice had told him there had been an ex­plo­sion and ‘some­one was run­ning around with a knife’, adding: ‘We have just been told there’s another explosive de­vice.’

Mark Ar­nell, 35, said of­fi­cers rushed into his cy­cle shop and or­dered them to flee. A po­lice of­fi­cer said: ‘We be­lieve there is a sec­ond bomb, peo­ple need to stay back, there is a man with knives on the loose.’ As the emer­gency ser­vices flooded the area, commuters were ma­rooned on trains fur­ther along the line. Some ran down the tracks un­til a more or­derly evac­u­a­tion was ar­ranged.

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