"the best post on the subject [of the Stockwell shooting] so far and I agree. A must read." - Tim Worstall, August 21, 2005

"Chris at Optimus In Omnis wrote a thoughtful post in July...his more recent post describes the edginess many Londoners feel" - BBC News Online, August 22, 2005

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Retrospective: 7/7 journal

12:58pm: The city of London was brought to a standstill with a staggering seven blasts on a combination of the London Underground and Bus services, which caused serious death and destruction as Tony Blair opened the second day of the G8 Conference with a working breakfast with George W. Bush. The seven explosions, the vast majority of which were on the London Underground, occurred in a 45-minute period from 8:50am onwards, the height of the morning rush hour. At first there were reports from the Underground that a power surge had caused a failure throughout the tube system, but it quickly became clear that there was, in fact, a series of mass explosions. The trains were plunged into darkness as pieces of carriages were charred greatly by explosions, some being strewn across the tracks in the tunnels. According to eye-witnesses, a thick black smoke filled both the tunnel and the train, and passengers were forced to wait upwards of 30 minute before they were tended to by Underground workers. As the bigger picture began to unveil itself, passers-by above ground were forced into buildings by police and ordered to close all doors and windows in case of secondary explosions, all part of the mammoth response by emergency services and the army towards a most terrible of terrorist attacks.

At the Royal London Hospital, over 100 casualties have been admitted after being evaluated at various makeshift triages (including the Hilton Hotel and local schools) upon being evacuated from the Underground stations. Of those, only ten were serious injuries. In various other hospitals, the proportion of serious injuries was much the same; however, the sight of victims missing limbs, some having emergency CPR performed on them was a distressing one broadcast to the whole country through several national media outlets.

Sniffer dogs were immediately despatched to search for other, possibly undetonated bombs around the capital which could possibly explode, causing further horrors as Londoners began to fully understand the levity of the situation they faced just one day after being awarded the Olympic Games: the most joyous of occasions being contrasted with the most hellish.

Central London was brought to a standstill with security cordons only opening to allow a slew of both off-duty and on emergency response teams in to tube stations, and several double-decker buses out to hospitals, carrying the lesser seriously injured patients. All Underground services across the city were stopped, with buses halted in zone 1, encompassing all the blast sites. The emergency services capably carried out their work without panic while those around them struggled, and must be applauded for such an excellent response in the most difficult of conditions.

At midday, Tony Blair announced that the G8 summit would continue, but that he would return to the nation's capital to organise the freshly-implemented Operation Cobra. In the Commons, Charles Clarke expressed his deepest regret at the "criminal and appalling acts," and announced that only four incidents could be confirmed. As the ministers crammed themselves into the pews for this emergency meeting, some overflowing, taking their seats on the steps, Clarke announced that he had taken part in Operation Cobra. David Davies, the opposition minister, added his respects towards the emergency services and the victims of the attacks, calling "this mornings explosions...acts of deliberate intention to take lives." He then pledged that he was ready to aid the Government in whatever way possible, but expressed concern at possible follow-up attacks on other major cities throughout the country.

The most horrific of accidents was the only one which could be seen by the mass media at first; the bus explosion in Tavistock Place, a red double-decker bus ripped apart with the roof thrown in whole in front of the stationary bus, the sides bent at an awkward angle, the rear of the second deck of the bus fading away to nothing, showing the impact of such an explosion in such a confined space. It seems unlikely that anyone could survive such a massive explosion which could cause such damage to a huge structure as a bus.

By 1pm, the Secret Organisation Group of Al'Qaeda of Jihad, a European organisation, claimed responsibility for the attack - at the time it was not known of the validity of the claim, as many Islamic terrorist groups often flock to take credit for such a disgusting act - and, as the rain began to fall in London, the meeting of Operation Cobra was paused, deciding to regroup upon the arrival of the Prime Minister from Gleneagles. Nearly four hours after the explosions began, it was still unclear exactly what had happened, and what would be the consequences of this most awful incidents.

1:06pm: A controlled explosion was heard during the morning, signifying that this already monstrous attack was planned to be yet more dangerous and disgusting. Sadly, a number of people were announced as dying at Edgware Road, further increasing the now-ballooning death rate as more and more serious casualties were brought out of the wrecked carriages of the Underground trains. In London hospitals, the majority of casualties were treated for cuts caused by the shattering glass, and burns by the extreme heat resulting from a large explosion. The Royal London Hospital announced that 183 people had been admitted: of those, 60 still remain in hospital, several critical, including six undergoing emergency operations.

At Gleneagles, a second statement by the Prime Minister "condemned these barbaric attacks", with George Bush, and Jacque Chirac at his right and left-hand shoulders, the rest of the G8 leaders, the most powerful leaders of the world surrounding him, providing a united front against the extreme funamentalists who are believed to have been responsible for this attack. The rescue missions began to slowly wind down at some sites, but the number of casualties increased exponentially. Beginning to form a complete picture of the horrible events of July 7, 2005, it emerged that there were several Underground attacks and three bus bombs focused around the central London area which seriously injured over 150 and caused cuts and bruises to countless others.

1:20pm: The number of incidents throughout the day decreased as it became apparent that the victims of these attacks were emerging from separate Underground stations, lowering from seven to four. Local schools became a security target for possible immediate follow-up attacks, with headteachers being regularly updated with the orders that no child or staff should leave school premises for fear of a security breach.

A military helicopter looked starkly out-of-place on the green lawn of Gleneagles, but this was a day for extraordinary sights: as Tony Blair entered the helicopter, the blades started spinning and the G8 leaders took their seats to continue negotiations of combatting Third World debt, Jack Straw taking the place of the Prime Minister as he rushed to the capital to take his place as the leader of the country, now united under a strength to prevail against the terrorist forces which threaten to upset our democracy in Great Britain.

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