London Hit by Terror Attack
J. Sean Curtin (Fellow, GLOCOM and Asia Times)
Shortly before 9 in the morning, chaos broke out in London after the city suffered its worst-ever terrorism attack. Central London was quickly blocked off, but there was surprisingly little panic.
Police have confirmed at least six explosions, including a blast on a tourist bus, and the London police chief told Reuters news agency there were "indications of explosives" at one of the blast sites. There have been reports of eight deaths and nine injuries at Aldgate East subway station.
The city's entire subway system has been closed, stranding tens of thousands of passengers and millions of people already at work. Nobody knows how they will get out of the city, but police have said there is an "emergency plan" for such situations and commuters would be told what to do once the situation had been assessed.
London media are already saying it was an al-Qaeda attack, possibly aimed at the Group of Eight (G8) meeting being held in Scotland.
The authorities are performing well and emergency vehicles are the only ones able to move around. Thousands of people are out on the streets. The traffic is in complete gridlock, and the only way to get around is to walk or ride a bicycle. Many areas are cordoned off and people say they have seen bodies covered on the pavements outside some subway stations.
This correspondent was on his way to a meeting in Central London when the attack occurred. Reports initially said the underground transport network had been suspended due to power surges on the system.
However, rumors soon spread that there had been explosions and stranded people were able to confirm this. I could not initially contact my wife, who was at a meeting near the site of the Liverpool Street station blast. She eventually phoned, saying she was safe in an office building near the site, and there was no panic, but people were extremely concerned as there were rumors of many casualties. I spoke to several other people in the central area, they all confirmed there was no panic, but the city was at a complete standstill.
What had all started off as an ordinary morning in London, except that it was the day after the city had been selected to host 2012 Olympics, has turned into its greatest day of terror.
Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. This article first appeared in Asia Times Online on 7 July 2005, http://www.atimes.com, and is republished with permission.