Coordinated terrorist attack hits London
Thursday, July 7, 2005
Three bomb explosions have hit London Underground trains, and a further bomb destroyed a bus in the city centre. The Metropolitan Police Service has initially confirmed that 33 people have been killed in the four explosions on London‘s transport system this morning, and said the overall number of wounded was as high as 700, in what are believed to be terrorist attacks. (See later reports in the box at the side for later announcements made on following days.)
The first reports were of an explosion at 08:49 BST (UTC+1) on the Hammersmith & City Line between Liverpool Street station and Aldgate East. Explosions also occurred on a train between King’s Cross and Russell Square and another at Edgware Road. The explosions are currently being reported, and described by Prime Minister Tony Blair, as being “terrorist attacks.” Traces of explosives were found at two of the sites according to the BBC.
Scotland Yard has confirmed one explosion onboard a double decker red London bus travelling south outside the British Medical Association on Tavistock Square. Police cannot confirm whether this bomb was intended for another train and accidentally detonated aboard the bus instead.
Pundits are speculating the attack was co-ordinated by al-Qaeda. Dr. Shane Brighton, an intelligence expert at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence, claims that, “If what we are looking at is a simultaneous bombing — and it does look like that — it would very certainly fit the classic al Qaeda methodology.” Two militant Islamist groups are reported to have claimed responsibility for the blasts.
In a special news conference at 15:30 BST, July 7, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick of the Metropolitan Police confirmed 33 fatalities so far, 45 critical/serious injuries and approximately 300 minor injuries.
At 08:51 BST a bomb exploded on a Circle Line Underground train 91 metres/100 yards into the tunnel from Liverpool Street. Seven are known to be dead.
At 08:56 BST a bomb detonated on a Piccadilly Line train between King’s Cross and Russell Square. Twenty-one are dead; it is believed more bodies remain in the tunnel, which is one of the deepest on the Underground network.
At 09:17 BST a bomb exploded on another Circle Line train between Edgware Road Station and Paddington. The blast blew a hole in a wall, and another train was hit by debris from it. A third train is also involved. Five are known to be dead.
At 09:47 BST a No. 30 bus (Hackney – Marble Arch) blew up at the junction between Tavistock Square and Woburn Place outside the BMA building. It has been estimated that thirteen people died.
Earlier, quoting the Associated Press, Yahoo News had reported “at least 40 people were killed and more than 350 wounded”. Also, the same report says “two U.S. law enforcement officials said at least 40 people were killed”.
Several hotlines have been set up for those concerned about friends or relatives. A list of these numbers are below. The agencies setting up these hotlines stress that callers should try to reach their friends or relatives first before contacting the hotline. In addition, to prevent swamping, they also have asked that only genuine callers use the hotlines.
- General Metropolitan Police hotline: 0870 1566 344
- United States Department of State: 1 888 407 4747 (toll free in the US)
- Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: 1 800 002 214 (see also the British High Commission web site)
- Canadian Foreign Affairs (please have ready the full name, birthdate, and passport number): +1 800 387 3124
- Irish Department of Foreign Affairs: 1 800 242 548
- New Zealand High Commission: +44 20 7930 8422 from London, 0800 432 111 from New Zealand
- Spanish Consulate: 44 20 7589 8989. Spanish hotlines are +34 913791625, +34 913791627, and 913791628.
- German hotline: +49 800 2110110. Germans in Britain needing immediate help should call 020-78241457.
The first reports that came in were from London’s Liverpool Street station talking of an explosion on the Metropolitan Underground line and the station being evacuated. Later a BBC and a Wikinews reporter spoke of a bus being destroyed by a bomb blast in Tavistock Square outside the British Medical Association offices.
The initial reports of explosions were believed to have been the result of power surges. This was because the first indication of any disturbance was the opening of circuit breakers in the Underground, which was observed in the control room. This is usually due to a power surge, but in this case the actual cause was damage to the track circuits by bombs.
At approximately 10:50 BST reports were made that there was an additional, as yet unidentified explosion along Houndsditch, near Liverpool Street Station. Police were also warning pedestrians at Russell Square that a series of controlled explosions would be made shortly.
BBC News 24 has reported additional unspecified incidents at Brighton, Luton, and Swindon. These stations have been closed and there has been no official confirmation of the nature of the incidents, if any actually occurred.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair told London Live that there have been “events” at Edgware Road, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Russell Square, Aldgate East and Moorgate.
At 11:30 BST (UTC+1) St. Mary’s Hospital released a statement that they have admitted 4 critical, 8 severe and several minor injures. Injuries are limb damage, cuts, burns, head injuries and chest problems.
The exact causes of the explosions are still unknown. Initially, it was thought that it was some technical fault. However, the police later suspected terrorist attacks. Police are still unsure if the bombs were simply left in packages or whether there were some sort of suicide attacks.
According to the Associated Press, a senior Israeli official said Scotland Yard told Israel minutes before the explosions that it had received warnings of possible “terror attacks”. Sky News says this has been denied by Scotland Yard. Sir Ian during his interview with Sky stated that there had been no specific intelligence.
German news magazine Der Spiegel (as well as unconfirmed information from CIA) has reported that a letter from an organization calling itself “Secret organization – Al Qaeda in Europe” has appeared, claiming responsibility for the bombings. See our related story for more details.
A broadcast interruption on MTV Thursday at 16:00 UTC said a group naming itself “Al Jihad Network in Europe” claimed responsibility for the bombings.
A police spokeswoman has confirmed two deaths at Aldgate station. Television and radio reports are now saying there have been four separate incidents with up to 150 casualties, speculating that the blasts may be related to terrorist activity.
The Associated Press is reporting that a US law enforcement official has put the toll at 40 killed.
The CBC reports at least 52 fatalities, including 17 from the incident on the number 30 bus according to media reports.
It has been reported that in the early stages of the attack, information was only distributed to civilians within the center of London, and authorities had a specific policy of not providing information to the global media, in case any information provided to the media could be used by additional terrorists to target vulnerable locations during an evacuation procedure. This was probably partly to blame for the early confusion amongst the media.
Emergency services are also attending King’s Cross and Liverpool Street Station.
The entire tube network and all buses within zone 1 have been suspended and many buses are now being used to ferry the ‘walking wounded’ to the hospitals. The underground will be closed for an indefinite period of time, but according to Fox News Channel United States, the closure will last at least for all of today.
All emergency services are responding en-masse to a “major incident” and are responding only to life-threatening emergency calls. Patients are being turned away at hospitals to free room for those injured by the attacks.
The London Congestion Charge has been suspended for the 7th and 8th of July.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the Army was dispatched to seal off the Israeli Embassy as Israel’s Finance Minister is present for a conference. The army have reportedly been involved with rescues at Covent Garden. Police have denied this report (originally made on Sky News).
The police have cordoned off roads around Upper Woburn Place following a massive explosion on a bus in the vicinity. Traffic is at a standstill in many places in the capital. Defra‘s security branch are reporting that police are advising everyone in London not to use any public transport and the Cabinet Office are advising staff to remain in offices until further notice. A further email sent to all staff by Defra’s permanent secretary indicates that Charing Cross and Waterloo mainline railway stations have been closed down for police searches, and that other stations could close for similar reasons later today.
As at 09.30 BST, Kings Cross Thameslink was experiencing delays and overcrowding but no serious difficulties.
Businesses have been hit by the uncertainty of the events – the FTSE had fallen almost 3.5% by 11.47UTC (), but started to recover a little by early afternoon. The value of the pound has dipped, and the London crude oil price has dropped. International markets are also suffering, with falls in share indexes felt as far as South Africa. See our related story for more details.
According to Fox News Channel United States, all London schools are in lockdown and students are being kept in schools.
The Authorities are asking people in London to stay where they are, indoors if possible. Take inside any bins or bags of rubbish they have left out for collection, providing they check their contents first. Arrangements are also being made for when schools finish as schools have been asked to keep pupils safe inside until the usual school closing time.
The UK Highways Agency has stated that at the request of the police, the message “Avoid London – Turn on Radio” is being displayed on electronic motorway message signs on the M25 and other major routes approaching London.
The US Homeland Security Department asked authorities in major cities for heightened vigilance of major transportation systems. Department spokesman Roehrkasse indicated that the department had not received any indications of plans that this type of attack is planned in the United States. Later, the department raised the terror alert level to orange. See our related story for more details.
A joint statement of the G8 leaders was made by Tony Blair at a press conference, also attended by US President George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin. See our related story for more details.
The Queen and many other world leaders have also issued statements. See our related story for more details.
Mayor Ken Livingstone’s full statement on the London bombings 07-07-2005: