Friday, July 08, 2005

London attacked by terrorists!

What a difference a day makes.. only yesterday the whole city was riding high on an amazing wave of both surprise and jubilation at being awarded the right to hold the 2012 Olympic Games, and then this morning during the peak-hour rush, the city's transport system was brought to a stand-still by a coordinated terrorist bombing attack on a double-decker bus travelling through the city, and on three London Underground trains in the City & West End.

I had just arrived at my station, just down the street at Barons Court tube where I was met with the coinciding closure of the station, with LUL station staff telling all passengers that the entire network (which carries 3 million people a day) had been shut down because of a power failure or power surge, at that time being described as the result of a 'major incident' in Central London..

I immediately called Carly at home down the street as it all seemed very suspicious that the whole network was shutdown, and they were evacuating all stations... She couldn't see anything was on the news at that stage, nor was the web reporting any 'major incident' besides reported delays on the Piccadilly line. I continued my journey to work, as I can fortunately catch a few connecting buses to get me there. When I arrived I was met with the developing news reports of the series of terrifying terrorist bombings on the tube at various points around the City, and on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square..

The bombed No. 30 double-decker bus in Travistock Square

While the entire city seemed in shock that it had actually happened, the british media showed a continuous stream of live scenes of organised emergency services personel simply dealing with the confronting scenes of destruction both underground in the stations near where the carriges were blown apart. All the while the city was calm, but on edge. Know one knew if there were more bombings planned, or what the commute home would bring..

Our flat is just at the bottom-left edge of this map - not too far from the chaos in Central London

A map of the coordinated timing of the bombings at critical points in the rail network was confronting

Our group of friends over here, the majority of which either live, work, or both in Central London, promptly sent around an e-mail roll-call, to make sure everyone else was accounted for. I had already sent text messages back to our parents in Brisbane telling them we were all O.K. because, as you can imagine the phone lines were soon overloaded with calls into and out of the Capital, and from many people outside London trying to call in.

As paramedics and other medical personel began treating the hundreds of injured people in nearby hospitals, the entire city began to work out what the impact of these attacks would mean for their journey home, in that the entire Undergound network was shutdown, the main overland railway stations closed for the time being as a precaution, and no buses were running in Zone 1, which covers the centre of London. Lucky for me I work out of town, so I was planning to catch the buses that were still running out my way back in to West Kensington, however, for those people working in Central London, many faced the prospect of a walk across the city, taking hours for some, to their respective overland main railway stations to travel home to destinations outside of London. Many of these scenes were on the news, showing people taking 2-4 hours to walk home.

Repeated many times in the print & web media, this photo was taken by a passenger on their camera-phone, as they were led from the Piccadilly Line train, along the underground tracks, back to the station platform at Russell Square

Tonight London is very quiet indeed, with the Tube lines still closed, and buses beginning to return to normal. The TV is showing scenes of empty streets, and a strange eerie calm as people still slowly make their way home. But Londoners interviewed in the city all afternoon and evening kept saying the same thing, that people must carry on with life, otherwise the instigators of the attacks will have acheived their objectives - it seems that being stoic is one of the poms best traits!!

I'll be going to work in the morning, as will most people who can..

This is definitely one journal entry I never wanted to make while us or our friends were living here, but what has been called by many as 'an inevitable event' has occured not far from us..



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