July 7 Aldgate injured like ‘trench warfare victims’
PUBLISHED: 15:49 27 October 2010
A POLICE officer who risked his life to help the injured in the July 7 Aldgate bombing described them as “like World War One trench warfare victims”.
Detective Constable Tony Silvestro, of the British Transport Police, was one of the first officers to enter the tunnel after the explosion on the second carriage of the Circle Line train.
He told the inquest into the 2005 attack yesterday at the High Court in London (October 27): “They were like trench warfare victims when they get the shakes.
“They were covered in soot, their hair was all over the place. You just basically saw the whites of their eyes.”
Shehzad Tanweer set off his device at 8.49am, killing seven people.
Meanwhile, another BTP officer, who was on the scene by 9.07am, said lessons had to be learnt from the tragedy.
BTP Inspector Robert Munn was forced to rush to and from the wrecked carriage and the platform to get radio signal.
He said he was angered by the chaotic response from the services above ground.
By 10.30am “nobody seemed to know what was going on”, he said.
Insp Munn added: “It (poor radio signal) made life very difficult.
“We are never going to get any incident right first time. There are always lessons to be learnt.”
Insp Munn entered the wreckage with two probationary officers who had only been with the force for six weeks.
All the officers were praised for their quick response, despite believing that a secondary explosion could have hit at any time.
Training in terrorist incidents teaches that further blasts - to target the response services - are likely, Insp Munn said.
Lady Justice Hallett, coroner, described Insp Munn as behaving “impeccably”.
She said: “You’ve praised your probationers well. I suspect they’ve learnt from your example.”
And describing DC Silvestro as going “way beyond the call of duty”, Lady Justice Hallett added: “Armed with only a torch and vest you ran into the tunnel not knowing what you faced and you stayed down there doing everything to help.
“Even when reminded of the risk to yourself, you didn’t run for your life. You redoubled your efforts.”
The inquest into the 52 lives lost on three Tube trains and a bus continues.