ADVERTISER 150: How we report the 2005 London 7/7 bombings that kill 52 commuters
- Credit: Archant
We have reached July, 2005, in our nightly series marking the 150th anniversary of the East London Advertiser. There’s destruction on the streets where there was meant to be pride and joy after London the day before had won the bid to stage the 2012 Olympics. It becomes known as ‘London 7/7’ when Islamist suicide bombers kill 52 people on our public transport...
2005: The East London Advertiser is already out on the streets that Thursday morning, July 7, with the main story that London had been awarded the 2012 Olympics to be staged at Stratford, when news breaks of the 7/7 terrorist bombings on the Underground.
The first hint of anything wrong is when the paper hears from London Underground about a power surge at 8.40am which brings trains to a standstill. At first it seems just something to add to our online travel news.
But the London Fire Brigade’s control room reports at 8.45am that there has been an explosion on the Circle line, then a second message at 8.50am that emergency crews are responding to a bomb at Aldgate.
A crew from Whitechapel fire-station is first at the scene, making its way through the smoke-filled tunnel to reach the wrecked train carriage.
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Then a second explosion rips through a westbound train at Edgware Road in the opposite direction, followed by a third blast on the Piccadilly line between King’s Cross and Russell Square.
A fourth device goes off on a crowded bus in Tavistock Square. Dr Sam Everington, who runs the Bromley-by-Bow medical centre, is at a British Medical Association meeting when the bus bomb goes off outside and rushes with colleagues to treat the injured.
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The Advertiser sends reporters and a photographer to Aldgate as events unfurl, where survivors are brought to the surface and tell how they had made their way along the track to safety, guided by rescuers.
One survivor is policewoman Liz Kenworthy on the train coming into Aldgate.
“It was dark and a lot of soot was blowing about,” she recalls later. “The floor was jagged.
“Metal was torn from the side of the train and ceiling, wires were hanging down. Glass was blown out from the windows, doors were blown off.
“People under foot were dead—others were just sitting in shock.”
The off-duty Pc gives makeshift first aid until help arrives.
A fleet of ambulances and even commandeered buses take the injured to the Royal London Hospital where 208 people are treated, with 10 operating theatres in action at one point.
The Queen visits the Royal London the next day to meet survivors and medical and rescue staff. She talks to Bruce Lait, 32, a dancer, who had been on his way to rehearsals in the West End. He explains that his hearing has been damaged by the blast.
But seven Aldgate passengers haven’t made it—their bodies strewn in the wrecked carriage in the tunnel, the day 52 innocent London commuters die and 700 are injured.
IT’S NOT OVER YET—ANOTHER BOMB FOUND ON SHOREDITCH BUS
The terrorist attacks on London are far from over. Another attempt to strike London’s public transport—but this time it is foiled.
Exactly two weeks after the 7/7 atrocities, an alert passenger on the top deck of a No 26 heading to Hackney Wick spots a suspecious device and alerts the other passengers as the bus turns from Shoreditch High Street into Hackney Road.
The driver pulls up and hurriedly evacuates the passengers and alerts police.
A specialist squad manages to defuse the device that had been packed into a rucksack and left on the top deck.
Advertiser freelance photographer Mike Wells is on a rooftop overlooking forensic scientists still examining the vehicle 12 hours after the bomb is found, while streets around Shoreditch are still cordoned off.