TERROR HITS LONDON

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At least 33 are dead and scores wounded after four bombs exploded in London's transport system, British police said. "We were all trapped like sardines waiting to die," said bombing witness Angelo Power. "I honestly thought I was going to die, as did everyone else."

LONDON - The three explosions that ripped through London subway trains Thursday killed at least 33 people and an undetermined number were killed in a fourth explosion on a bus, British officials said in what Prime Minister Tony Blair described as a "barbaric" terrorist attack.

A U.S. law enforcement official earlier said the death toll from the four blasts was at least 40.

Some 45 people were in serious or critical condition, officials told reporters Thursday afternoon.

The near simultaneous explosions caused more than 350 injuries and came a day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics and as the Group of Eight summit was getting under way in Scotland.

The blasts went off between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. local time. Implementing an emergency plan, authorities immediately shut down the subway and bus lines that log 8.4 million passenger trips every weekday. It brought the city’s transportation system to a standstill and left many central London streets deserted.

London police chief Sir Ian Blair said authorities had not received any 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.

Four explosions confirmed
By afternoon, London hospitals reported one death and said they had treated more than 350 people. The Royal London Hospital in the city's East End, which received the bulk of the injured, said 123 of about 180 casualties had been treated and released.

British Home Secretary Charles Clarke said there were three explosions on the subway system and one on a bus. Earlier reports indicated six explosions.

“We do not know who or what organizations are responsible for these terrible criminal acts,� Clarke said.

Prime Minister Blair later left the G-8 summit for the day to return to London, while the other leaders continued the meeting.

"They will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world," Blair said before leaving and flanked by fellow G-8 leaders, including President Bush. "We shall prevail and they shall not."

Bush later warned Americans to be "extra vigilant" as they head to work.

Bus destroyed
One explosion destroyed a double-decker bus at Russell Square in central London, near the British Museum.

"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.

Jay Kumar said he ran out of his business 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. “People were running this way panicked," he said. "They knew it was a bomb. Debris flying all over, mostly glass.�

'Walking wounded'
Clarke said explosions also went off on subway trains at or near these stations: Edgware Road, Aldgate and King's Cross.

“It was chaos,� said Gary Lewis, who was evacuated from a subway train at King’s Cross station. “The one haunting image was someone whose face was totally black and pouring with blood.�

Police sealed off large areas around other underground and mainline rail stations. Firemen donned chemical protection suits before rushing into stations.

A doctor at Aldgate said at least 90 people were wounded at that location alone. At least two people were said to have been killed at that station.

"There are some walking wounded at Aldgate," said a spokesman for City of London police, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are not sure of the scale of the incident. Reports are still coming in."

'Loads of people screaming'
Bradley Anderson, a subway passenger, told Sky News that "there was some kind of explosion" 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 Corvett, who was on an eastbound train from Edgware Road station, said that "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 could see the carriage opposite was completely gutted. There were some people in real trouble."

Claim of responsibility
A Web site posting said the blasts were the work of a group calling itself the "Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe."

No such group had previously been reported and the claim could not be verified. The claim did not appear on any of the Web sites normally used by al-Qaida.

The attacks recalled the 2004 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 and were blamed on al-Qaida.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission warned London Muslims to stay at home to avoid any violence aimed at them.

Clarke said efforts would be made to resume underground and bus operations as soon as possible but gave no indication of when that might be.

“People are strongly advised not to travel into central London as the emergency services must be allowed to do their work in the most effective way they can,� he said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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