Dublin man de­scribes ‘fire­ball com­ing to­wards me’

Rory Rigney was just feet from the de­vice that ex­ploded at Par­sons Green

The Irish Times - - World News -

On a packed Lon­don Un­der­ground train at the height of rush-hour, and with pas­sen­gers crammed like sar­dines, no one seemed to have no­ticed the white bucket wrapped in a su­per­mar­ket car­rier bag placed against a door to­wards the rear of the train.

At 8.20am yes­ter­day, as the District Line train from Wim­ble­don pulled into Par­sons Green sta­tion, the home­made bomb went off.

Rory Rigney (37), from Dublin, was just feet from the de­vice, and saw “a fire­ball com­ing to­wards me”.

“It smelled like a fire ex­tin­guisher and there was this foam on the floor,” he said.

There were “red wires” com­ing out of the bucket. The Ir­ish man said one woman, who “looked like she had been burnt”, was be­ing helped by peo­ple pour­ing wa­ter on her face. An­other wit­ness, Ryan Bar­nett (25), was sit­ting farther down the train with his headphones on. “All of a sud­den, hun­dreds of peo­ple were run­ning past me scream­ing a mix­ture of ‘stam­pede’, ‘at­tack’, ‘ter­ror­ist’, ‘ex­plo­sion’, ‘get off the train’, ‘ev­ery­one run’.” Bar­nett, who works in pol­i­tics, ran with them.

Me­dia tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant Richard Aylmer-Hall (53) ran too. He had been “bliss­fully” read­ing his news­pa­per and lis­ten­ing to a pod­cast on his way to Padding­ton on the train, which has ca­pac­ity for 865 pas­sen­gers, and which was “ab­so­lutely packed” with com­muters and school­child­ren. In the febrile panic that en­sued af­ter the in­ci­dent, he heard a woman shout­ing about “a bag, a flash and a bang”.

Ter­ror-stricken stam­pede

With the train, for­tu­nately, at a sta­tion, its doors were open. Hun­dreds ran in a ter­ror-stricken stam­pede to a stair­case lead­ing to the sta­tion’s exit. “I saw cry­ing women, there was lots of shout­ing and scream­ing. Some peo­ple got pushed over and tram­pled on,” said Aylmer-Hall.

Bar­nett made it to the stair­case, but he said stew­ards were shout­ing “stop, stop, stop” as it be­came dan­ger­ously over­crowded. Ev­ery­one ended up squashed on the stair­case.

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

Olaniyi Shokunbi (24), a fit­ness in­struc­tor, saw peo­ple ly­ing on the floor cov­ered in blood. “There was a lit­tle boy. I felt re­ally sorry for him. He couldn’t have been more than 11. He had scratched his head. He was look­ing for his lit­tle

‘‘

Peo­ple were fall­ing over, peo­ple were faint­ing, peo­ple were cry­ing

brother,” he said. A woman on the floor couldn’t breathe. Peo­ple all around were scream­ing and cry­ing.

Ini­tially, many of those flee­ing had lit­tle idea what they were flee­ing from. But those near­est the white bucket had heard a bang, then wit­nessed a “wall of flame” whoosh through the car­riage.

South African Gil­lian Wix­ley (36), who lives in Put­ney, and was eight seats from the ex­plo­sion, said: “It wasn’t a big ex­plo­sion, more of a bang and then there was fire.” As she rushed off the train, she saw “flames go­ing up the wall”. Out­side, a small school­boy, aged about 10, was “sit­ting on the floor sob­bing”, ob­vi­ously in shock and very scared, she said.

As stunned pas­sen­gers dis­gorged from the sta­tion, videos and pho­to­graphs of what Scot­land Yard would later de­ter­mine was an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice were ap­pear­ing on Twit­ter. “It was a white bucket, a builder’s bucket, in a white Aldi bag or Lidl bag,” said Chris Wild­ish, who was on the train.

– (Guardian ser­vice)

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: GETTY IMAGES/REUTERS

Clock­wise from main pho­to­graph: Po­lice do foren­sic tests on the trainat Par­sons Green un­der­ground sta­tion in Lon­don; the re­mains of the de­vice, and a woman who was in­jured in the at­tack.

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