by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
July 7, 2005
BOMBS RIP LONDON BUS AND TRAINS; 33 KNOWN DEAD, 300 HURT
LONDON, 8:19am, July 7, 2005 -- Dozens of Britons may be dead this morning and 300 are injured after a series of bomb blasts ripped at least three speeding London subway trains and a double-decker bus was bombed at 9:47am during or shortly after the morning rush hour. Cellular telephone service was disrupted by its dedication to emergency services, but calm quickly returned to the city.
A 10am report from the Associated Press said at least 40 people were known dead in the explosions, and earlier reports said at least 300 were injured. Each train probably had 700 people on them, and the Picadilly train may have had as many as 900. It is unknwon how many people were on the bus, which have a capacity of about 100. The bus was attacked at 9:47am
[All subway and bus systems in the United States have been placed on high alert, officials in Washington said. Airlines were not included in the alert, they said.]
A spokesman for London police at a news conference said the death toll is known to be at least 33 in the four incidents, the first of them at 8:51am. It remains unclear whether the bombs were detonated by suicide bombers or remotely. Initials reports of bombings at food markets in other parts of Britain were unfounded. The bombs went off without any warning, as are usually provided when the IRA is involved.
"There were no warnings given to the police at all," DAC Brian Paddick, head of the Metropolitan Police said at a London press conference.
The Picadilly Line train was between Kings Cross and Russell Square when the bombs exploded near stations at Moorgate, Aldgate and Liverpool Street, and the Edgeware Road train bomb also hit another train it was passing undergound.
Recovery efforts are still ongoing, but none is still trapped in any station, British police said. Traces of explosions were found in two sites. All London train and bus service is shut down.
"We condemn utterly these barbaric attacks. We send our profound condolences to the victims and their families. All of our countries have suffered terribly from terror. It is not an attack on one nation but on all nations, and on civilzed people everywhere," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said as he spoke with other world leaders beside him at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, where President George W. Bush and other heads of state are gathered to discuss aid to Africa.
The blasts are believed to be the work of al-Qaeda, and as a result nations around the globe have set their security services on high alert. A new Website took credit for the blast in the name of a European jihad group, the "Secret Organization group of al-Qaeda of Jihad in Europe" but officials could not immediately determine the authenticity of the message or the origins of the group, which was described as new.
In another development, an al-Qaeda Website said this morning that Ihab al-Sharif, the Egyptian Ambassador to Iraq who was kidnapped by the group on Saturday, has been executed this morning. The group released a videotape of the blindfolded Ambassador.
[In Boston, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he had unilaterally raised the threat level at 6am this morning for Boston transportation systems and Logan Airport. Romney said that later, terror officials in Washington had raised threat levels for Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.]
"The terrorists will not succeed. Today's bombs will not weaken in any way our resolve to uphold the most deeply held principles of our societies and to defat those who would impose their terrorism on the world. ... We shall prevail and they shall not," Prime Minister Blair said in a voice shaking with anger.
There is no reliable death toll at this moment in the devastating attacks in London, which is being covered live by CNN and other news organizations.
The blasts rattled stock markets around the world. Reuters said British stocks fell 200 points or 3 percent but recovered much of the loss, and that across Europe shares were were sent reeling by the news.
One of the blasts took place in the Aldgate station in the heart of the City of London, the nation's chief financial district.
The price of oil fell dramatically after the blasts. It had reached a record high of $62 earlier in the morning as Hurricane Dennis approached the Gulf Coast of the United States and threatened supplies.
President Bush was briefed by White House chief of staff Andrew Card and he is not currently planning to return home from the meeting. Mr. Card was reportedly unable to reach the Secretary of Homeland Security, but contacted a deputy and conferred with him on threat-level precautions. There have been no attacks reported in the United States, and there is no plan to immediately raise the national threat level, a senior administration official told CNN.
One of the bombs, under and near the major Kings Cross subway stop, was believe to have killed at least 10 people and left as many as 160 wounded.
"The smoke intensified, the screaming intensified, the pandemonium intensified," said one man who was caught in a subway car leaving Manor House, a largely Jewish district on the edge of London. "We were trapped like sardines waiting to die." Many passengers refused to leave the train because they feared the electric lines that run with the tracks, he said.
One observer said the attack on a double-decker bus was timed to await the passengers streaming out of the subways, and it occurred at 9:47, well after the initial blasts.
A cellphone user's video showed the scene of a blast on one undergound train, where people initially reacted in an orderly way. A weeping older man described "dead bodies on the tracks, trains blown open..." The man, wiping blood from a wound on his head, said many intially thought their train had plowed into another. Police officials say they have disacovered forensic evidence of the bombs.
Bodies were being left in place where the attacks occurred, fire officials told CNN, so that evidence concerning the bombs can be determined.
In a brief statement at Gleneagles, President Bush expressed "heartfelt condolences to the people of London and to the people who lost lives."
"I appreciate Prime Minister Blair's steadfast determination and strength. We carry a message of solidarity with him," Bush said.
Bush did reach Homeland Security officials in the United States, he said. "I instructed them to be in touch with local and state officials about the facts of what took place here in London."
The President also noted the "dramatic" contrast between "what is happening here and in London." In Gleneagles, the President said, world leaders are trying to alleviate the problems of Third World poverty and global warming in a spirit of compassion and hope. "On the other hand you have people killing innocent people, and the contrast couldn't be clearer," he said.
The President decried "Those who have such evil in their hearts they will take the lives of innocent people. ... The war on terror goes on," he said. "We will not yield to the people. We will not yield to the terrorists. Instead, he said, the leaders gathered in Scotland will send a contervailing mesage of hope and compassion that "will overwhelm the iodeology of hate."