Multiple bomb attack on London – Emergency Services Plan is put to the test

Posted by Chris Green on Thursday July 7 @ 9:00 pm

The London Evening Standard newspaper reports the attacks
The London Evening Standard newspaper reports the attacks

And so the long-expected terrorist attack on the very fabric of London’s infrastructure finally happened today, as a series of bombs destroyed significant parts of the London Tube network, injuring hundreds and killing several. A further bomb on the top deck of a bus in Upper Woburn Place tore the vehicle in half, hurling seated passengers – along with their seats out all over the street, and killing at least one person at the time of writing.

In fact, as I write this, 38 people in total have been confirmed dead, with unconfirmed reports from credible news agencies placing the figure as high as 50. Wounded number over 700, with many more having fled from the scene and thus not forming part of the emergency services count.

Mobile phone services across London were jammed with all major networks reporting problems as people tried to contact relatives and friends. BT also experienced massive call volumes and struggled to connect calls both within London and around the country. A spokeswoman for Vodafone said the emergency services were being given priority access to its cellular network.

We knew this would happen one day, and given out 25-year experience of dealing with IRA attacks, we thought as a city we were ready to defend and react. And by the looks of it, we are reacting well despite what happened. I remain concerned that we do not yet know if there was any chemical element to the Tube blasts, and that the Home Office is commenting that it had no intelligence ahead of today of an imminent attack.

We are also unsure as to the motive of the attack – was it to coincide with the G8 summit in Edinburgh, was it to humiliate London after we won the 2012 Olympics bid, or was this simply an overdue reaction to our military activities in the Middle East. An alleged group linked to al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility via a web site, but again, authorities remain uncertain if this is legitimate, a hoax or simply an attempt to cash in on another group’s activities.

One area that I am remained concerned about is Transport For London’s insistence that it will be able to resume a limited Tube service on Friday morning. Surely the Tube network needs to be closed for several days while a thorough search is conducted of every tunnel, station, carriage, cupboard and toilet? Apparently not – I think this is a mistake.

I argue that to allow events such as this to affect our day-to-day lives is wrong – it means the bad guys win! But at the same time, we must maintain as high a regard for mass public safety as possible, and it is clear that if TfL pushes ahead with a Tube service tomorrow, then public safety will be at risk.

Learn from Clear Channel, which has announced that after consultation with Hyde Park security personnel, the Queen concert in London’s Hyde Park on Friday and the REM concert there the next evening (Saturday) have been postponed for a week on public safety grounds. This is the best option all round under the circumstances.

Mobile phone camera footage from inside one of the bombed tunnels, as scared passengers walk from their stalled train to the next station
Mobile phone camera footage from inside one of the bombed tunnels, as scared passengers walk from their stalled train to the next station

Walking wounded exit the scene of one of the Tube bomb sites
Walking wounded exit the scene of one of the Tube bomb sites

The remains of the double-decker bus in Upper Woburn Place following the explosion
The remains of the double-decker bus in Upper Woburn Place following the explosion

For the families of those who were killed in today’s attacks, our thoughts are with you all.

For my friends who follow this blog whom I have not yet spoken to directly – I am fine. I have been in Amsterdam all week and only flew back this evening, and so the only aspect of today’s events that I have experienced first hand was the gridlocked traffic between Heathrow and my home in Ruislip.

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