Hor­ror and panic as fire­ball ripped through the car­riage

Daily Express - - NEWS - By Cyril Dixon

TER­RI­FIED pas­sen­gers told yes­ter­day how the bomb sent a fire­ball down the crowded car­riage in scenes rem­i­nis­cent of a hor­ror film.

School­child­ren and a preg­nant woman were among those crushed in the panic as they scram­bled to es­cape the blaze.

One man de­scribed leap­ing over a fence and flee­ing down the tracks with his girl­friend.

A 16-year-old school­girl said she saw peo­ple cry­ing as they lay on the floor and a woman spoke of a “hu­man pile-up” in the sta­tion exit.

Char­lie Craven was com­mut­ing to work in the City with his girl­friend Lau­ren Hub­bard.

“We heard a loud ex­plo­sion,” he said. “I looked around and saw this mas­sive fire­ball com­ing to­wards us and the heat com­ing to­wards us as well down the car­riage.

“Some of the doors opened and we man­aged to es­cape. A lot of the peo­ple were press­ing against the fence. We man­aged to jump over and run down the track as fast as we could in fear of a gun­man or a sec­ond ex­plo­sion. I saw peo­ple on the floor who had fallen over and been crushed but we just ran.”

An­other wit­ness, Chris Wild­ish, said he saw a white builder’s bucket in­side a car­rier bag as chok­ing fumes poured out of the train.

“A chem­i­cal smell came from the train and then a stam­pede fol­lowed as peo­ple ran,” he said. “There were flames com­ing from the bucket, wires hang­ing from it and a strong smell of chem­i­cals.”

Mr Wild­ish said he saw many peo­ple with burns, adding: “One slightly older gen­tle­man had very bad burns around his face.”

Luke Walm­s­ley, a video ed­i­tor, said: “Peo­ple just started sprint­ing. It was every man for him­self.

“One burns vic­tim had se­vere leg in­juries. It was a very busy com­muter train, young and old, chil­dren go­ing to school.

“One of the most haunt­ing im­ages I saw was nan­nies try­ing to look for kids, be­cause of the rush of peo­ple tak­ing five and six-year-olds away from them and they were try­ing to find them.”

Richard Aylmer-Hall, who was on the train but did not see the blast, said peo­ple were crushed as they poured out of the sta­tion. “Peo­ple got squashed go­ing down the stairs. Po­lice evac­u­ated ev­ery­one from the scene pretty quickly.

“There was scream­ing, push­ing and shov­ing. It was like there was a ter­ror­ist on the loose with a gun or some­thing. Lots of peo­ple were in tears. It was to­tal, chaotic panic.

“A lady who had been in the same car­riage as the de­vice de­scribed it go­ing off – a puff of smoke and flames com­ing out of it.”

Emma Ste­vie, 27, who was caught up in the crush af­ter try­ing to board the train, said: “I heard lots of screams and peo­ple say­ing ‘run, run’. We got out and then there was a hu­man stam­pede down the stairs. There were peo­ple ly­ing un­der­neath get­ting crushed, a big hu­man pileup. I wedged my­self in next to a rail­ing. I put my­self in the foetal po­si­tion. I kept think­ing, ‘I’ll be OK’.

“There was a preg­nant woman un­der­neath me and I was try­ing re­ally hard not to crush her. The fire brigade were telling us to get back on the plat­form but no one was.

“The in­juries from the stam­pede seemed the worst. Out­side there were women cry­ing and peo­ple sit­ting on the floor.”

Peter Crow­ley, whose hair was charred in the blast, said he feared the train was about to ex­plode.

“It was panic sta­tions,” he said. “My ini­tial thought was that the whole train would blow up. I saw pas­sen­gers with fa­cial burns. They had been ex­posed to a very hot fire for a nano sec­ond. It was lucky the doors were open be­cause ev­ery­one got off. It was a ter­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I am lucky I got away with just a bit of charred hair.”

He added: “It was a re­ally hot, in­tense fire­ball above my head. I’ve just got red marks and burns to the top of my head. There were a lot of peo­ple a lot worse than me.

“I saw a gen­tle­man op­po­site me and the whole back of his jacket had been burned where the in­tense heat had got to it. He had burn marks across his face.”

Wella Men­sah, 16, who was on her way to Lady Margaret girls’ school just yards from the sta­tion, said: “Peo­ple were shout­ing ‘run, run’.

“There were peo­ple sit­ting on the pave­ment cry­ing and in hys­ter­ics. The teach­ers came and started es­cort­ing peo­ple into school.”

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