Terror explosions rock London


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 07 Jul 2005

LONDON (AP) - Near simultaneous explosions rocked the London subway and a double-decker bus at the morning rush hour Thursday, police said, causing at least two deaths, injuring scores of riders and sending bloodied victims fleeing from debris-strewn blast sites. 

London's police chief said authorities found found indications of explosives at the scene of one of the blasts - which erupted as the G-8 summit got underway - and that there are concerns it was a coordinated terror attack. 

"We are concerned that this is a coordinated attack. We are aware that one of the sites does containly does contain indications of explosives," Sir Ian Blair said on Sky News. 

The explosions caused officials to shut down the entire bus and underground transport network. They came a day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics and as the G-8 summit was starting in Scotland. Prime Minister Tony Blair was preparing to make a statement. 

Sky News showed a picture of a mangled red bus with its top collapsed, and police said they suspected a bomb caused the explosion.  

Bloodied and bandaged witnesses reported panicked crowds fleeing as the blast rained glass and other debris onto the street. 

BBC TV broadcast footage of a paramedic trying to revive one of the wounded, pumping the chest of his bloodied and blackened body. 

Traffic camera image from video of the Russell Square area of central London following an explosion on board a bus.What is believed to be the roof of the double-decker bus can be seen centre right. - AP pic

"There have been a number of dreadful incidents across London today," said Home Secreatary Charles Clarke, Britain's top law enforcement officer. He said there were "terrible injuries." 

Police said they had reports of at least two deaths and nine people injured in six blasts. But Blair, the police chief, prepared the public for the casualty toll to rise. 

"There are many casualties," he said. "It is still a confusing situation." 

Injured tube passengers are escorted away from Edgware Road Tube Station in London following an explosion. - AP Pic

The police chief said there had been no warning. 

"We have been at a very high state of alert. Of course if there had been any kind of specific warnings we would have dealt with it," he said. "We are not aware of any warning at the moment." 

Jay Kumar, owner of a news agent near the site of the bus blast in Russell Square in Central London, said he ran out of his shop when he heared a loud explosion. He said the top deck of the bus had collapsed, sending people tumbling to the floor. 

Many appeared badly injured, and bloodied people ran from the scene. 

"A big blast, a big bomb," he told The Associated Press. "People were running this way panicked. They knew it was a bomb.  

Debris flying all over, mostly glass."Another witness said the entire top deck of that bus was destroyed. 

"I was on the bus in front and heard an incredible bang, I turned round and half the double decker bus was in the air," Belinda Seabrook told Press Association, the British news agency. 

She said the bus was packed with people."It was a massive explosion and there were papers and half a bus flying through the air," she said. 

Dow Jones Newswires said police were reporting explosions on at least two others buses, but those reports could not be confirmed. 

Blair, who was hosting the world's most powerful leaders at Gleneagles, Scotland, was to make a statement at 1100GMT, his spokesman said Thursday. It was not clear if the G-8 gathering focusing on climate change and aid for Africa - but from which Iraq has largely been left off the agenda - would have to be postponed. 

Italy's European commissioner was quoted as saying by Italian news agencies that the explosions were a terrorist strike against Europe. 

"What has happened is the tragic confirmation that terrorism strikes once more at the heart of Europe," Franco Frattini was reported as saying by the Apcom and ANSA news agencies. 

A stock trader reacts in front of the German Stock Index (DAX) display at the stock exchange in Frankfurt.The DAX was down three percent to 4,474.76 by late morning.

"It's necessary to immediately activate coordination between intelligence and police services and offer England all the help possible," Frattini, Europe's commissioner for justice and home affairs, was quoted as saying. 

Police said incidents were reported at the Aldgate station near the Liverpool Street railway terminal, Edgware Road and King's Cross in north London, Old Street in the financial district and Russell Square, near the British Museum. 

Aldgate, in East London, is close to the site where London's main Olympic facilities will be built. 

London Ambulance Service said several vehicles had been dispatched to the area near Liverpool Street station. 

Several Tube stations were closed following the incident, including the busy King's Cross station in north London. 

Bradley Anderson, a Tube passenger, told Sky News that "there was some kind of explosion or something" as his train reached the Edgware Road station in northeast London. 

"Everything went black and we collided into some kind of oncoming train," Anderson said. 

Simon Tonkyn, 51, who had been traveling from Paddington station to Aldgate, in east London, told Press Association: "There was just an enormous bang and a lot of smoke." 

"A group of us got fire extinguishers and were able to smash through the carriage door and I now just feel totally numb," he said. 

Simon Corvett, 26, who was on an eastbound train from Edgware Road station, said: "All of sudden there was this massive huge bang." 

"It was absolutely deafening and all the windows shattered," he said. "There were just loads of people screaming and the carriages filled with smoke. "You couldn't really breathe and you couldn't see what was happening." 

"You could see the carriage opposite was completely gutted," he said. "There were some people in real trouble." 

The explosions sent stocks plummeting in Europe. The FTSE 100 dropped 124.54 points to 5105.10 by late morning. The DAX was down 3% to 4,474.76, while in Paris, the CAC 40 dropped 2.75%. Exchanges elsewhere in Europe were also down. 

The British pound fell to US$1.7443, from US$1.7567 in late trading Wednesday. 

Jay Kumar, owner of a news agent near the site of the bus blast in Russell Square, said he ran out of his shop when he heard a loud explosion. He said the top deck of the bus had collapsed, sending people tumbling to the floor. 

Many appeared badly injured, and bloodied people ran from the scene. 

"A big blast, a big bomb," he told The Associated Press. "People were running this way panicked. They knew it was a bomb.  

"Debris flying all over, mostly glass."Another witness said the entire top deck of that bus was destroyed. 

"I was on the bus in front and heard an incredible bang, I turned round and half the double decker bus was in the air," Belinda Seabrook told Press Association, the British news agency. 

She said the bus was packed with people."It was a massive explosion and there were papers and half a bus flying through the air," she said. 

The prime minister said the G-8 summit focusing on climate change and aid for Africa - but from which Iraq has largely been left off the agenda - would go on as he returned temporarily to London. 

Italy's European commissioner was quoted as saying by Italian news agencies that the explosions were a terrorist strike against Europe. 

"What has happened is the tragic confirmation that terrorism strikes once more at the heart of Europe," Franco Frattini was reported as saying by the Apcom and ANSA news agencies. 

"It's necessary to immediately activate coordination between intelligence and police services and offer England all the help possible," Frattini, Europe's commissioner for justice and home affairs, was quoted as saying. 

Clarke confirmed only four blasts, but police reported explosions at the Aldgate station near the Liverpool Street railway terminal, Edgware Road and King's Cross in north London, Old Street in the financial district and Russell Square, near the British Museum. Woodrow, the ambulance official, said emergency services had also been sent to Moorgate and Leicester Square subway stations. 

Aldgate, in East London, is close to the site where London's main Olympic facilities will be built. 

London Ambulance Service said several vehicles had been dispatched to the area near Liverpool Street station. 

Simon Tonkyn, 51, who had been traveling from Paddington station to Aldgate, in east London, told Press Association: "There was just an enormous bang and a lot of smoke." 

"A group of us got fire extinguishers and were able to smash through the carriage door and I now just feel totally numb," he said. 

  • Do you have a story to share? If you are a Malaysian who was in London during explosions, we would like to hear from you. E-mail us at feedback@thestar.com.my  

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