Dublin man describes ‘fireball coming towards me’
Rory Rigney was just feet from the device that exploded at Parsons Green
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”.
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)
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.