Terrorist attack on London, 7th July 2005.
A survivor from the King's Cross tube bomb tells her story
Posted by an urban75 poster on urban75 bulletin boards, 10:59PM 7th July
I was on a crowded train to work - it was 8.40am when I boarded the rammed Picadilly line train at Finsbury Park.
Normally I board half way up the train, but the train was so full, I walked up to the front of the train to board.
I was on the first carriage, the one behind the drivers' carriage, by the doors; it was absolutely packed, and even more people got on at Kings X making it what felt like the most crowded train ever.
Then as we left Kings X, about 5 to 9, there was an almighty bang and everything went totally black.
Then clouds of choking smoke filled the tube carriage and I thought I had been blinded. It was so dark that nobody could see anything. I thought I was about to die, or was dead, then I realised I was choking, the smoke was like being underwater, but gradually I could see, a little, as the emergency lights in the tunnel kicked in. The glass was smashed so air started to flood in, we were ok.
There was silence for 10 secs. Then a terrible screaming.
We all tried not to panic, we said to each other 'ok, stay cool, stand up if you aren't injured, hold hands, don't cry, stand up, hold on, we'll get out , the driver is trying to talk to us'
Some people screamed, some groaned, but we kept saying, 'shh, we'll get out, stay cool, the driver is talking to us, let's listen to him'.
The driver said 'I've got to go forward a bit, then I can let you out, but first I need to make sure the track isn't live', so we all shouted the message back into the darkness. It got passed down the train into the darkness. Then after about 20 - 30 minutes we started to leave the train.
It was choking on there so we were trying not to panic because we knew that would be curtains.
We tried to keep each other calm, I remember saying 'if anyone's boss gives them grief for being late, we know what to say to them, eh, girls?' and people laughed.
We kept saying 'not long, it's the long walk to freedom, nearly there'. I knew, if we panicked, we'd trip on the
( possibly live) tracks and things would be hopeless.
So we just tried to stay cool, and trust we'd be safe soon. We'd escaped from the smashed carriage, we just had to stay calm and escape from the dark tunnel too.
We walked carefully through the semi darkness - we didn't know if the tracks were live so we walked between them - the emergency lights were on -in the tunnel - we walked in single file to Russell Square station and after what felt like half an hour we were lifted off the tracks to safety, and I was in a lift, euphorically calm, then in the station foyer, surrounded by filthy blackened shocked people, someone handing me water.
My mouth was so dry. My lungs were full of choking dirt, it felt. I was aware then of a huge bleeding gash full of glass in my wrist and that I could see the bone in my arm, and I then felt sick. I realised I needed to clean it, it was full of grit, and I was bleeding , so I held my arm above my head and breathed in and out hard.
But I also knew I didn't need an ambulance; it was a nasty gash, not a maiming. So I staggered about for a bit, outside the tube, and no-one seemed to know what to do, least of all me, then I called my friend who worked in Shaftesbury Avenue and she came in a cab and she took me to the hospital ( UCL).
We shouted, 'does anyone want to get a lift to the hospital?' but people seemed too shocked to respond, and I started to faint. I just wanted to get my wound cleaned and stitched and GET HOME , I was feeling sick and worrying much worse casualties would be coming later.
In casualties I was 'walking wounded', not really badly hurt, and I felt almost bad for having survived and got off so lightly. I knew others behind me were so much worse off than I was. The hospital staff were so lovely, I kept wanting to cry. But I knew I needed to stay calm and get home.
I got treated, my cut cleaned of glass and x-rayed - hours passed, I felt even more calm and light-headed - people started to flood into A&E at UCL covered in glass and blood.
The police talked to me and gave me a forensic bag for my clothes. I felt like I was out so fast and into hospital so fast the emergency services staff hadn't quite got geared up into 101 mode yet. I was so very lucky. The emergency staff were clearly shocked, yet doing all they could and rose to the occasion so bravely. I can't thank them enough. They were magnificent.
Anyway. They kept me in for 4 hours with shock, they stitched me up, then they wouldn't let me go, cos I had gone deaf and they weren't sure if I had broken my arm. X-rays proved it was just bashed. Eventually I got out and met my partner and walked to Camden ( no buses/trains, desperate to get home). Seeing his face was wonderful. I started to shake with the relief of being alive.
In the pub I found out that there had been many bombs.I went into shock. I probably still am in shock. It took another 2 hours to get home; a friend eventually managed to pick us up in her car.
I am very lucky. I feel euphoric. I'm sure I'll 'crash' soon, but right now, I'm so glad to be alive.
UPDATE 07-07-2005, 11:57 PM
I'm, okay, just starting to 'crash', I am keeping calm, but unable to get the horrible smell out of my nose, even though I have had a bath.
I am getting a bit tearful, but I had this overwhelming need to get the story out, so everyone 'owned' it, and it wasn't just jammed in my head, freaking me out.
It helps to say what happened.
I'm grateful for the support.
I'll keep in touch.
UPDATE 08-07-2005, 09:00 AM
I'm not going in today, because need to rest up, but I bloody well am getting on the tube on Monday. And yes, I probably will feel scared and I probably will remember the bomb, but as I said to someone yesterday, when we were on the train stuck underground, coughing, 'well, we've now established that we can survive a tube bomb, so sod it, yes, I am going to travel again'.
I don't see what else to do really. Today, lots of people on the tube will be worrying about what if and whether they'd cope, and I 'll know I did cope, we all coped, which is kind of empowering really. I'm scared but I'm angry, so I'm using the anger to get through it. We all need to go to work. Life goes on.
(I am angry at the sick death-fetishing nutters who planned and executed this BTW. Just them. No-one else.)
UPDATE 08-07-2005, 07:53 AM
The police officers, CID forensic team, at UCL the x ray team, hospital support staff, doctors, nurses, the train driver, the volunteer nurse Faith who rushed in on her day off to man the outpatient ward, you were all absolutely wonderful and magnificent and I take my hat off to you. Thank you for looking after me. You stitched my wound, x rayed me, cheered me and calmed me and cared for me. And hundreds of other frightened, hurt people.
Big up to you
UPDATE 08-07-2005, 09:00 AM
Sharing what happened helped.
I am feeling a bit hungover and my arm aches but apart from that am 90% fine. I was a bit traumatised and shocked yesterday and kept smelling the horrible smoke smell.
Then I blew my nose and coughed a lot and it was black, so after that I felt better because I realised I wasn't going mad, the smell was real. And therefore would go in time. Especially if I puit Vicks up my nose, good suggestion that.
I am going back to work on Monday. Fuck the bombers. Just fuck 'em. I was so proud of London yesterday. I still am. Peddling hate-filled nihilistic clap trap is never going to get very far with us.
I am still feeling glad to be here and glad to be alive and grateful to the emergency services, and the hero train driver, and the police. I'm going to sit in the garden today and look at the flowers and the sun and appreciate the fuck out of everything.
...Personally I would like everything to get back to normal as soon as.
With perhaps a deeper understanding of how great being alive in this diverse and beautiful and proud city is.
UPDATE: 09-07-2005, 10:31 AM
Hello, well, thought I'd update things. Yesterday was a wierd day. I felt sick all day, which I think was the smoke inhalation, and the news overload. Friends called and texted and several beautiful bunches of flowers arrived. I love flowers. I felt overwhelmed by support and love.
Also felt hugely freaked out as I felt I so nearly could have died. Couldn't stop watching news. The rolling BBC and ITV news started saying the bomb at Kings X was on the first carriage by the double doors. I was standing in the middle, by the left hand set of ( the first) double doors as the train faced forwards ( going from Kings X to Russell Square).
I fell to the left, into a heap of people, by the left set of door when the blast went off. The window , the first window of the left of the train was smashed. It was too dark to see what else was smashed. We escpaed through the driver's cab and walked to Russell Square. Apparently most people escaped out the back and walked to KIngs X, the news said.
Anyway, when I started hearing the bomb was in my carriage, I flipped. I started pacing about. I phoned the BBC newsline to ask them where they got this info from, then I phoned the anti-terrorist hotline and gave a more detailed witness statement.
I was alternately pounding with anger and adrenalin, and having mini-flashbacks, then feeling falling-over-tired. I drank several whiskies.
My sister came to visit, and I was so glad to see her, and we ate some pizza with my boyfriend; suddenly I was starving after not having eaten barely anything for 24 hours, just endless cups of tea.
I watched a programme about orphaned baby elephants on the BBC and briefly felt normal delight. I tried to sleep and kept jumping up having remembered the bang and smelling the smoke and hearing the screams. I took some 5HTP tablets ( herbal remedy) and calmed down and went to sleep about 11pm still feeling nauseous and utterly drained.
Today I feel much better. Not sick any more. I just posted this on another thread.
The murderers wanted to have the effect of people being scared to go in buses and trains. They wanted tourists not to come, people to be scared, terrorised.
That is the aim of terrorism, to cause terror. Most of London couldn't see the bombs as they were underground, the bus I think was there to provide a TV-friendly moment of carnage, pictures to drive the message home, the iconic red bus in bits, and the immediate thought 'that happens in Beirut and Jerusalem, not London'.
Well the murderous death-fetishists can fuck off. How they think frightening people is going to lead to the achievement of their aims of an Islamic Fundementalist state?
They know it won't. It can however work to their advantage by stirring up race and faith hatred, and thus recruiting more nihilistic young fools to their death-cult.
The best way to defeat them is thus to go to work on the tube, to dress and work how I want as a woman, to enjoy the rich social life that London offers, to have no fear of other cultures or creeds, but only to be wary of the hate-filled, the nihilstic, the furiously angry who won't listen or enagage.
By which last I mean fundementalist anyone; not just Death-cult 'Moslems'. Frothing right wingers, implacable Born-Agains, 'fucktha police and politicians' anarchists, the whole fucking lot. Don't presume that you fight your 'cause', your 'wars' for me and others on that train. You don't.
I want life, not death, peace, not war, multiculture not monoculture, multitheism not monotheism, and the police and tube staff and emergency services to be left alone to do their jobs without dealing with idiots.
Good. I feel better for saying that.
I'm now drinking yet more tea and about to put my lovely flowers in vases. My fingernails are still black, so I'm going to cut them off. My chest still feels full of soot and I'm still coughing a bit. My stitches are healing nicely. Things feel a bit more normal, but I think I am going to see about getting a massage or some quick trauma counselling ( don't know who to call though).
I've had PTSD before, so that helped, I knew the drill and how I react. I am aware of how telling my eye-witness story to a couple of journalists outside the hospital helped me get the story out straight away, which is my normal reaction to trauma, to tell someone, to share it.
( I was in the Financial Times and Daily Telegraph yesterday - argh, grrr, I am a Guardian reader,why weren't they around?)
More journos phoned yesterday, I must have given my mobile to the stringer who was asking questions when I was wandering outside the hospital getting fresh air after being stitched, still in shock.
The bloody Mail on Sunday and Metro wanted to send a photographer round! I said no way. I said I felt it was important to get witness statements out at the time, as I was there, and felt relatively untraumatised so I'd rather they spoke to me than shoved their mikes and cameras in the faces of those who were shell-shocked or more injured.
Having done that, I really do not want any more fuss. I happened to be there, I said what it was like, that's enough.
I'm dumping on the internet under my urban75 poster pseudonym, I'm talking to people who love me, I'm doing what I need to to get through this, I was incredibly lucky, but I have no desire to become a 'Blast Survivor Girlie: one week on. Will she ever laugh again?' bollox peice in the flipping Mail. I hate the Mail and all it stands for.
I still really, really want to know - need to know- if the bomb was on my carriage and if any of the people who I was looking at getting in at Kings Cross, especially the laughing black woman with braids, were hurt or died. Her smiling face haunts me. As does the fact that someone may have got in behind her carrying the bomb. If what they are saying is true.
I don't see how it can be true; if the bomb was that close why aren't I dead?
Keep thinking of WH Auden Icarus poem about the banality of evil.
UPDATE 10-07-2005, 03:50 AM
After detailed anti-terrorism staff interview I found out some stuff I needed to share.
The King X bomb was placed at the END of the first carriage, not the first set of doors on the front carriage as reprted on the news.
The tube tunnel was very narrow here, and the train was very crowded, which was why most of the people were killed and hurt at the back of carriage 1/ beginning of carriage 2.
I heard this from the counter-terrorism police who took my statement today: the BBC and ITN were wrong in their first reports.
From being there about 7-10 yards from blast, I can say that there were about 30- 50 behind me therefore who may not have got out alive. About 10 behind me walked to safety.
I understand that there are about two thirds of this number missing. I can also say that when I was at University College Hospital there was one woman at least that I saw with total amnesia who had no idea of her name, address, anything, so please therefore do not give up hope, if you are searching, yet. There is a small hope.
I can also say that the blast was very intense, so if you were rightnext to it, it would have been almost instantaneous,
because the tube tunnel was so small, and the train so rammed, those next to it would have taken the full force of the blast.
I do not know what else to say, I am sorry.
UPDATE 14-07-2005, 10:09 AM
Hello and thank you for all your good wishes and messages of support. I never thought, when I posted my account on a thread here that it would become a story so many would follow. Thank you to Editor for giving it the space to become what it did. The BBC have told me there have been 380,000 hits on my blog on their site - think they said hits, not unique users - anyway, it's mind-boggling.
Today will be the last day of 'survivor diary' posting on the BBC website but I will still be here on urban popping in to post about stuff.
People are asking how I am: I'm ok, finally starting to find myself in tears. Which helps; before I was too shocked to cry.
I was shaking with anger and sadness today at 8.50am, the time of the bombs and last night I cried a storm. My partner held me.
Going to Trafalgar Square with some of the other victims to remember in silence at 12pm, and will go to Vigil at 6pm, and will also try to lay flowers at Kings X.
I am going to use today's remembrance ceremonies as 'markers', so I can try and grieve and then walk away from it. I need to have some kind of marking what happened , in public, and that is why I am grateful to people observing the silence/going to the Vigil with me. It really helps.
I will be remembering not just those dead and injured on Thursday, but the victims of all bombs, everywhere.
Thank you all for your support, I have a back log of private messages to reply to and will do so after today, I will be out of the house in the city centre today.
Love to you all
» Read MarkM's eyewitness account
» BK tells the Mail on Sunday where to get off!
» Read the thread on the u75 boards (registration required)
» Ken Livingstone's full speech on the attacks
» BBC blog