PREGNANT WOMAN WAS ALMOST CRUSHED IN THE STAMPEDE
WOMEN and children were trampled on in the desperate stampede to escape from the Tube train fireball yesterday.
Panic spread among the more than 900 passengers within seconds of the blast and they began tumbling out on to the narrow platform fearing that the whole train would blow up.
Some were squashed against railings as everybody headed for the only way out, a set of steps by the front of the train down to street level.
Ryan Barnett, 25, who was further up the train, recalled: ‘I was sitting there, headphones in, at Parsons Green, the doors open fine, I’m not really paying attention, and all of a sudden hundreds of people run past me screaming a mixture of “stampede”, “attack”, “terrorist”, “explosion”, “get off the train”, “everyone run”.’
He made it to the staircase but stewards were shouting ‘stop, stop, stop’ and it turned into what another witness called a mass pile-up.
Mr Barnett said: ‘People were falling over, people were fainting, people were crying. There were little kids clinging on to the back of me.’ In the chaos, he said a pregnant woman lost her shoes and fell over.
‘There was sheer pandemonium and panic,’ added passenger Neil White, while another witness told LBC radio: ‘I was helping a lady up and she was unconscious – she was just getting trampled.’
Emma Stevie, 27, told the BBC: ‘There was a human stampede down the stairs. There were people lying underneath getting crushed. I wedged myself in next to a railing, I put myself in the foetal position.
‘There was a pregnant woman underneath me and I was trying really hard not to crush her.
‘There was a full Tube-worth of people on the steps – hundreds of people. I saw a lady with water being poured over the face and hands, who I think had been burnt in the explosion. There were women crying, and people sitting on the floor.’
Amid the chaos a young boy was left cryOne ing out for his brother. The youngster, said to be no more than 11, was seen frantically searching for his sibling as panicked commuters rushed from the west London station.
Olaniyi Shokunbi, 24, a fitness instructor, said: ‘There were people on the floor, there was a little boy, I really felt sorry for him, he couldn’t have been more than 11. He had scratches on his head, shouting that he had lost his little brother. He was in his school uniform. It was crazy.’
He added: ‘There was a woman on the floor. She couldn’t breathe. People were screaming and crying.
‘I could see little kids lying on the floor. They were trying to get out of the station but were overpowered by adults in the stampede. They weren’t physically strong enough. There was a woman on the floor who was breathing but not moving, in serious pain.’ eyewitness said it was ‘every man for himself’ as people rushed down the stairs. Another, called Paul, said: ‘There was a little boy about five, it must have been his first week of school and he was obviously terrified.
‘I said to a woman her hair was burnt off but her face was OK, but she was very distressed. She said the fireball went up past her head to the ceiling.’
A 24-year-old PR executive called Lucy said: ‘There was a schoolboy being lifted up after he had fallen down. He was in his school uniform, he must have been about ten, he was crying and distressed.’ Another boy was ‘sitting on the floor sobbing’ in shock. At first not everyone was alarmed. In a video clip of the scene one woman calmly remarks: ‘Oh look, that bag’s on fire,’ as she passed the remnants of the bomb.
A member of staff told her: ‘Right guys, let’s get away, let’s move right down to the end of the platform.’
Adding to the panic were false reports of a knifeman on the loose. As commuters reached the barriers at the bottom of the steps, some people were ordering them to go back up.
Luke Walmsley, a 33-year-old video editor, said: ‘It was complete pandemonium, complete terror. They didn’t open the gates and the Underground staff did not understand what was going on. People were shouting “He’s got a knife! He’s got a knife!’’ I didn’t see anyone with a knife.’
He added: ‘In the immediate seconds there were people running and shouting, it was just like where do you run to?
‘People were rushing down the platform, everyone was doing a 100metre sprint.
‘There were lots of injuries from people being trampled on.’
Accountant Sarah Hickson, 31, who was on her way to work from Putney to Paddington, said: ‘I heard everyone screaming “Run, run, run!” and the whole Tube went into frantic panic. Everyone was sprinting for the exit and someone was screaming, “There’s a man, there’s a man!” One person tried to climb over the railings and over everyone else. It was total chaos.
‘There was a pregnant woman and a little boy of about ten. His face must have been crushed against the concrete stairs because when he stood up he had grazes all over his face. It was horrible.’
She added: ‘Transport for London staff were doing their best to get control but everyone was screaming, trying to get out.
‘Eventually they managed to get some calm and people moved ever so slightly back, allowing the boy and pregnant woman to get up.
‘I am physically OK but shaken up, it was a scary experience.’ Insurance broker Grace Watts, 27, from Fulham, said: ‘Everyone was being shoved and squashed then someone at the bottom started shouting at us to get back up.
‘It wasn’t a member of staff, but in the panic everyone assumed that there was an attack going on outside the station, and we were stuck in between.
‘There were some five or six boys from the London Oratory School – they were only 11 or 12 years old – who had cuts and bruises from the
‘It was every man for himself’
crush. It was sheer panic.’ She added: ‘There was one girl who was running down the stairs who got pushed right over and cut her leg. She looked like she was in a lot of pain. Instinct just kicked in – I thought there must be a bomb or a gunman so you just get away as quick as you can. People were terrified. It was really scary.’
Sixth form student Wella Mensah, 16, said people were ‘on the floor outside crying’ with scorched faces.
Wella, who attends nearby Lady Margaret School, said: ‘I was under the bridge the train was on. I was looking and people just started running past me. I saw a bunch of girls. I asked if they were OK and they said there was a terrorist on the train and there was a fire.’
Commuters on the train behind witnessed terrified passengers sprinting away up the tracks. Nicole Linnell, 29, who works for a fashion label, said: ‘We saw people running down the tracks. About 30 or 40 people. It was absolutely terrifying.
‘Running on the tracks is the last thing you want to do, so we were like “What’s going on?”
‘After about an hour we were evacuated off the train on to the tracks, about ten to 15 people at a time.’
Sylvain Pennec, a software developer from Southfields, near Wimbledon, who was a few yards from the explosion, said commuters struggled to escape the carriage ‘collapsing and pushing’ each other.
BBC correspondent Riz Lateef, who was at the station travelling to work, said there was ‘panic as people rushed from the train’, adding: ‘People were left with cuts and grazes from trying to flee the scene. There was lots of panic.’
Another witness, Sham, said he saw a man with blood all over his face. ‘There were loads of people crying and shaking,’ he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
‘There were a lot of people limping and covered in blood. One guy I saw, his face was covered in blood – I’ve never seen anything like it.’
Commuter Robyn Frost was arriving at the station when she saw people trying to escape.
She told the BBC: ‘I walked into the station, there was blood on the floor and people running down the stairs screaming “Get out”. People were coming out of the station covered in blood.’
The first police to arrive on the scene quickly picked up on the knifeman reports and rumours of a second device.
Commuter Aaron Butterfield said police had told him there had been an explosion and ‘someone was running around with a knife’, adding: ‘We have just been told there’s another explosive device.’
Mark Arnell, 35, said officers rushed into his cycle shop and ordered them to flee.
A police officer told reporters: ‘We believe there is a second bomb, people need to stay back, there is a man with knives on the loose.’
As the emergency services flooded the area, other commuters were marooned on trains further along the line.
Some were seen running down the tracks until a more orderly evacuation was arranged.