TERROR ON THE TUBE
Fireball ripped through packed train carriage
SCOTLAND Yard has declared a terrorist incident after a blast sent a “fireball” and a “wall of flame” through a packed London Underground train.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism command have launched an investigation following the explosion in west London during rush hour this morning.
The force said police were called at approximately 8.20am to Parsons Green Underground Station “following reports of a fire on the train”.
The Met said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the national co-ordinator for counterterrorism policing, “has declared it a terrorist incident”, adding: “At present we are aware of a number of people who have suffered injuries.”
Prime Minister Theresa May is to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee this afternoon to discuss the incident.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing several people hurt and “covered in blood” after a “flash and a bang” on the District Line Tube.
Pictures posted on social media appeared to show a flaming bucket inside a plastic carrier bag on the floor of a carriage.
Police have not given details about the suspected cause of the explosion but the incident comes with Britain on high alert after four terror attacks in 2017.
The official threat level currently stands at severe – meaning an attack is seen as “highly likely”.
Media technology consultant Richard Aylmer-Hall, 53, was sitting on the service bound for central London when panic unfolded.
He said he saw several people injured, having apparently been trampled as they tried to escape.
He told the Press Association: “I was blissfully reading my paper and listening to a podcast and suddenly the whole world charged past me down the platform, down the Tube.
“I was on the Tube, we had just stopped at Parsons Green, I was on my way up from Wimbledon towards Paddington and suddenly there was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming, lots of screaming.
“There was a woman on the platform who said she had seen a bag, a flash and a bang, so obviously something had gone off.
“It was an absolutely packed, rush-hour District Line train from Wimbledon to Edgware Road.
“I saw crying women, there was lots of shouting and screaming, there was a bit of a crush on the stairs going down to the streets.
“Some people got pushed over and trampled on, I saw two women being treated by ambulance crews.
“Since then, every emergency vehicle in London has gone past me, fire engines, ambulances, every type of police vehicle.”
Mr Aylmer-Hall added: “I don’t think anyone was hurt by the actual device or whatever it was.”
One man who arrived at the station in the aftermath of the incident told the BBC: “I was walking towards the station and suddenly everyone came running down the stairs and out of the door.
“Lots of people shocked and screaming and saying there had
been an explosion and people were saying there had been a wall of flame coming down the tube carriage, I turned round and came back from the station with all of them.
“A wall of flame coming down the carriage after a bang.”
One woman standing on the platform as passengers left the Tube carriage in footage of the aftermath was heard saying: “We could see it on the far end of the train, I don’t know what it was – it looked like a fireball.
“Something went off – I could see it.
“I saw the thing and everybody panicked and got crushed.”
Scotland Yard said: “Police were called at approximately 08:20hrs on Friday, 15 September to Parsons Green Underground Station following reports of an incident on a Tube train.
“Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service and British Transport Police are in attend- ance along with the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service.
“We would advise people to avoid the area.”
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “The incident shows once again that Tube staff are the first responders in emergency situations and the clear need for safety and security to remain the number one priority and for the resources and staffing to be in place to deal with all eventualities.”
Downing Street said Prime Minister Theresa May was “receiving regular updates” on the situation.
Passengers on the train behind the affected Tube witnessed terrified passengers sprinting away up the tracks.
They were then held in their train for over an hour before being evacuated on to the tracks themselves.
TODAY’ST PICTURES IN TODAY’S PAPER
A flaming bucket, above, inside a carrier bag was shown on social media, while left, emergency workers were on the scene at the Parsons Green Underground Station. Television reports this morning, below, showed crews at a train, and medics treating injured commuters after the explosion in west London