Fireball attack on London Underground
LONDON again went on to terrorist alert yesterday after a blast on a packed commuter train resulted in 18 people being taken to hospital with burns and other injuries, after some of those fleeing the carriage were trampled.
Metropolitan police declared the incident, at the Parsons Green Underground station at West London at 8.20am, as terrorismrelated.
The blast, in which witnesses say a fireball engulfed the carriage, follows terrorist attacks in the UK earlier this year — on London’s Westminster Bridge in March, at a pop concert in Manchester in May, on London Bridge in June and another the same month in north London.
Unlike yesterday’s incident, all resulted in fatalities.
LONDON: Several people were injured yesterday after witnesses reported there had been a blast on a packed rushhour commuter train in London and police said they were treating it as a terrorism incident.
Passengers on board a train heading into the capital fled as fire engulfed a carriage at Parsons Green underground station in West London at 8.20am (7.20pm NZ time), with some suffering burns and other injuries in a stampede to escape, witnesses said.
The London ambulance service said it had taken 18 people to hospital, but said none were thought to be in a serious condition.
Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing, declared it a terrorist incident. Prime Minister Theresa May was to chair a meeting of Britain’s emergency response committee, her office said.
‘‘It is too early to confirm the cause of the fire, which will be subject to the investigation that is now under way by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command,’’ London police said.
Pictures taken at the scene showed a white bucket with a supermarket freezer bag on the floor of one train carriage. The bucket was in flames and there appeared to be wires coming out of the top.
‘‘I was on second carriage from the back. I just heard a kind of whoosh. I looked up and saw the whole carriage engulfed in flames making its way towards me,’’ Ola Fayankinnu, who was on the train, said.
‘‘A lot of people were trampled on. There were phones, hats, bags all over the place and when I looked back I saw a bag with flames. People were crying, shocked, a few people had been injured, some people had been trampled.’’
Outside the station, a woman was sitting on a pavement with a bandage around her leg, while armed police patrolled. A witness saw a woman being carried off on a stretcher with her legs covered in a foil blanket.
In 2005, 52 people were killed when four British Islamists carried out suicide bomb attacks on three London underground trains and a bus and this year Britain has suffered four attacks blamed on terrorists.
May said in a statement yesterday: ‘‘My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and the emergency services who, once again, are responding swiftly and bravely to a suspected terrorist incident.’’
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said people should ‘‘keep calm’’ and continue their lives as normal.
Television footage showed passengers being escorted off a carriage while a witness saw armed police scouring a stationary train and a bomb disposal unit at the scene.
The fire brigade said it had sent six engines and 50 firefighters and London Ambulance said it had sent ‘‘multiple resources’’ including its hazardous area response team to the scene.
On Thursday, figures showed there had been a record number of terrorismrelated arrests in the last year. — Reuters
Help at hand . . . An injured woman is led away after an incident at Parsons Green underground station in London yesterday.
Aftermath . . . Personal items and a bucket with an item on fire inside it are seen on the floor of an underground train at Parsons Green station in London.