Horror and panic as fireball ripped through the carriage
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.”