LONDON ― More than a dozen people were injured after an explosion rocked a West London underground station during rush hour on Friday, causing a fire inside a train and a stampede of panicking travellers.
The blast at the Parsons Green tube stop was caused by an improvised explosive device, Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said. Police said they were investigating the incident as terrorism. No arrests have been made.
London residents shared photos of the area, with one post showing a bag on fire inside of a train car. Several witnesses reported seeing injuries and a Metro reporter said that some people were “badly burned.” A BBC journalist said she saw a woman taken in ambulance with burns “top to toe.”
One traveller, Sylvain Pennec, told the Guardian that, “I heard a boom and when I looked there were flames all around.”
Police, firefighters, and medical services arrived at the station around 8:30 a.m. local time. The London Ambulance Service said that 18 people were taken to the hospital but that none appeared to be in serious or life-threatening condition.
Witnesses described a stampede of people rushing off the train.
“All of this happened within fifteen seconds,” Olaniyi Shokunbia told HuffPost. “It’s just crazy… [I] saw masses of people running so I started running myself … we’re running down stairways, I see people jumping into people … not caring if they break their bones. I’ve never seen such a thing in my life.”
Emma Steventon, 27, who lives in Parsons Green, told HuffPost UK she heard “lots of screaming” and was told to run but didn’t know why.
“Everyone just got crushed on the stairs, it was like a human pile-on, stampede, it was horrendous,” she said. “I had a lady underneath me shouting that she was pregnant and the pressure of more and more people falling on top because we couldn’t get down the stairs quickly enough.
“This poor little boy had his face smashed in and he was screaming,” she added. “It was just like, just hold on, just try and breathe, try not to break anything, it was awful.”
Firefighters later lead passengers off the train tracks, according to the Associated Press.
Tim and Karalyne Hyde told HuffPost that they were staying at their daughters’ nearby apartment when they saw, out the window, “tons of people running panicked past the flat… disorderly, chaotic people were confused and being led in one direction by police.”
Train service in West London was partially suspended and the area around the station was closed off with police tape. Some bystanders who live and work inside the cordoned area told HuffPost that they were blocked from entering.
Holly Leslie, 19, and her mother Susan opened up their home to offer anyone who had evacuated a restroom or place to charge electronics.
“My uni starts next week,” Leslie said. “If this were a week later I would have been on that tube.”
The incident occurred months after the U.K. was hit with a string of deadly terror attacks, including three in the capitol. In July 2005, the London Underground was hit with a string of suicide bombings, killing 52 people and injuring hundreds more.
British authorities saw 379 terror-related arrests during the year ending in June 2017, a record high for the nation, according to figures released by the Home Office this week.
“Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Friday. “As London has proved again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.”
President Donald Trump blamed the attack on “a loser terrorist” and called on Scotland Yard to “be proactive.”
Parson’s Green is an upscale residential neighborhood about five miles west of central London.
Karen Wright, who lives in the area, told HuffPost that Friday’s incident is proof that attacks can happen anywhere.
“It wasn’t a matter of if but a matter of when,” she said. “We’re all walking on eggshells.”
This is a developing story…
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Author: Willa Frej