London Tube bombs went ‘bang bang bang, very close together’

Saturday, July 9, 2005

After a press conference in London from the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London, more details are emerging about the attacks in London on Thursday.

Data from the Underground system’s power and control systems have revealed that all three bombs went off within 50 seconds of each other, at 8.50am, with the managing director of Transport for London, Tim O’Toole saying the bombs went “bang bang bang, very close together”.

The first bomb to detonate was on the Liverpool Street train soon after it left for Aldgate on the Circle line, seconds before the others. The blast tripped out the power system, visible in the control room. The first call the police received that morning reported “a bang” at Aldgate East, coming within a minute of the blast.

The Edgware Road train, leaving for Paddington and also on the Circle, exploded opposite a train coming from the other direction, making people think at first that it was a derailment. The first call to the Police spoke not of an explosion, but of a person falling under the wheels of the train. The confirmation of a bomb did not come until 9.17am, but by that time the emergency services were already on scene.

Transport for London’s new TrackerNet software is fully opertational on the Circle line, which allows for precise tracking of trains, but is not yet fully installed on the Piccadilly line. The first indication of the Piccadilly line bomb was when the tunnel telephone system wires were cut by the blast, an event logged by other software. The cutting of the lines then tripped out the track current. The tunnel itself suffered only slight damage and is safe, but the train – which was packed with commuters heading for Russell Square – is very badly damaged.

London Underground declared a ‘code Amber’ within minutes, moving trains to platforms and opening all doors. A ‘code Red’ – full evacuation – was set at around 9.15am. O’Toole described the decision to evacuate as being “very grave, not taken lightly”. When questioned as to whether everything possible had been done on the day to save lives, the managing director of Transport for London was “very proud” of the choices made that morning.

As investigations continue, all bodies have been removed from the sub-surface Circle line trains, but the carriages themselves are still in situ while a painstaking forensic investigation takes place.

Currently, work is on-going to retrieve bodies and forensic evidence from the carriage of the train in the deep tunnel of the Piccadilly line near King’s Cross. Teams of rescue workers looking for human remains are working alongside forensics experts in a “meticulous” search to find evidence.

Conditions are described as being very difficult, with high temperatures and lots of dust. Work was halted over Friday night when conditions became too bad, and resumed this morning. Efforts have been made to improve the ventilation.

Work will continue throughout tonight and possibly into Sunday. The exact number of bodies still in the wrecked carriage is unknown.

Access from King’s Cross is impossible, so workers are taking the longer route from Russell Square station to get to the front of the train.

Police have revealed that the bombs were ‘high explosives’ – not homemade. However they are declining to be specific about their composition as the information could be useful when they interrogate suspects.

Police will not confirm or deny if any parts of a timer have been found, but have said that “any device will now be in a million pieces”. Police believe the use of timers more likely than suicide bombings as the blasts were so closely timed, but are not ruling out anything.

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