London bombs kill at least 33
‘Barbaric’ terror attack says PM Tony Blair
The wreckage of a bombed bus in central London.
LONDON, England (CNN) — At least 33 are dead and scores wounded after a series of four "callous" and coordinated bombings in London’s transport system, Scotland Yard said.
U.S. law enforcement sources say the British government has told them the death toll is at least 40.
Witnesses described the horror of seeing victims dying and with serious injuries. There were scenes of panic as power failed on crowded underground trains, and tunnels filled with smoke.
"We were all trapped like sardines waiting to die," said Angelo Power. "I honestly thought I was going to die, as did everyone else."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was a "barbaric" terrorist attack as he flew back to London from the G8 summit in Scotland, which he said would go on in defiance of the bombers.
A group, the "Secret Organization group of al Qaeda Organization in Europe," claimed responsibility in a Web site posting. The authenticity of the claim could not immediately be verified.
CNN’s Charles Hodson, reporting from the scene of one of the bombings, said London had ground to a halt as the subway and bus systems had been shut down by the attacks.
Police immediately began a hunt for the bombers — thought to have operated similar to the Madrid bomb attackers of March 2004 who left explosives on trains rather than mounted suicide attacks.
The death toll was expected to rise and London hospitals reported many people in critical and serious condition.
Three of the blasts took place in the city’s subway system and one more hit a double-decker bus, all at the height of rush hour.
International SOS, an international medical emergency service, reported that the police had found explosive traces in at least one of four confirmed blast locations.
Scotland Yard’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick told a news conference that there had been 33 deaths in the three train incidents plus an unknown number of fatalities in the bus attack.
There had been no warnings given and the police had received no claim of responsibility for the attacks, he said — though he later added that police were aware of the Web site claim by a self-proclaimed al Qaeda-linked group and would be looking at it.
Hospital officials have reported at least 160 wounded. London transit officials shut down the entire Underground and stopped buses in the central city district.
Paddick said the first explosion had come at 8:51 a.m. BST (O350 ET) near Liverpool Street, Aldgate and Aldgate East Stations Underground stations, where seven were confirmed dead.
At 8:56 a.m. there was a second explosion near Kings Cross and Russell Square tube stations, where 21 confirmed were dead.
At 9:17 a.m. there was an explosion on a train traveling into Edgware Road station, affecting two other trains, with five confirmed dead.
At 9:47a.m there was an explosion on bus at Upper Woburn Place near Tavistock Square. Fatalities have been confirmed fatalities but the number is unknown at this stage.
"This is a callous attack on purely innocent members of the public deliberately designed to kill and injure members of the public," Paddick said.
Blair, in Scotland where he is hosting the G8 summit, told reporters he would leave the summit for a "face to face" report in London and then return later in the evening.
"It’s reasonably clear there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London," Blair said. "There are obviously casualties, both people that have died and people that are seriously injured.
Blair said it was "also reasonably clear" that the attacks were timed to coincide with the opening of the summit.
"It’s particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of proverty in Africa and the long-term problems with the environment," he said.
Just before leaving for London, Blair made a second statement, surrounded by the other leaders present at the conference.
"All of our countries have suffered from the impact of terrorism," he said. "Those responsible have no respect for human life. We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism that is not an attack on one nation, but all nations and on civilized people everywhere."
U.S. President George W. Bush was among the somber leaders who stood behind Blair as he spoke.
"We will not yield to these people, will not yield to the terrorists," he said in a short statement after Blair departed. "We will find them, we will bring them to justice, and at the same time we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate."
London Mayor Ken Livingstone said the blasts were "mass murder" carried out by terrorists bent on "indiscriminate … slaughter."
Livingstone, in Singapore where he supported London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics, said: "I want to say one thing: This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful, it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners." (Full story)
The Web site claim of responsibility by al Qaeda in Europe said the blasts were "in retalitation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan."
"Here is Britain burning now out of fear and horror in its north, south east and west," the statement said, translated from Arabic by CNN. "We have often and repeatedly warned the British government and people." (Full story)
Despite calls from officials to stay home, Londoners were on the streets except in areas where they were barred by police.
Police cordoned off areas around six stations in and around the city’s center and financial area and brought in sniffer dogs to check the areas.
Telephone traffic — particularly by cell phone — was nearly impossible. London’s largest cellular provider, Vodaphone, said it had devoted much of its network to emergency services, causing the problems with subscribers.
One man, with blood streaming down the left side of his face from a wound on his temple, said he didn’t "want to live through it again."
"I was in the front carriage and people were severely injured there," he said, dispassionately, adding that his train had been in the tunnel between Kings Cross and Russell Square. "I heard, but I don’t know, that people were hurt worse further back. "Some people were very calm, others very panicky."
"There was a very loud bang, the lights went out, the carriage filled with smoke," he said. "We were all thrown forward."
A police spokesman urged Londoners to "stay where you are."
"There’s no way to travel around London at the moment," he said.
"There is a London emergency plan," he said. "It has been put into effect. It is being coordinated by the Metropolitan Police, and that’s about all I can say at the moment."
Scotland Yard sent out a notice saying that "public transport in London will be affected in the next few days."
Claire Burroughs, spokeswoman for St. Mary’s Hospital in central London, told CNN the hospital was on "major incident alert." Four patients were critically injured, eight were seriously injured and 14 others were being treated for minor injuries, she said.
"The types of injuries we are seeing include limb damage, burns, cuts, breaks, head injuries and chest problems due to smoke inhalation," Burroughs said.
London Hospital said it received 95 patients, most with minor injuries. Ten, however were listed in serious condition and seven in critical condition as well as "numerous with significant orthopedic injuries requiring immediate surgery."
Royal London Hospital, in east London near Aldgate station, said it had admitted 16 patients, 10 of them in critical condition. St. Bartholomew’s hospital said it had treated and released 36 patients and had admitted two others.
CNN cameraman Oran O’Reilly said he has seen seven of the city’s famed double-decker buses as well as police cars and ambulances arriving with casualties.
British Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the explosions took place between Russell Square and Kings Cross Underground; near the Moorgate, Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations Underground; and the Edgware Road station.
Police said a bomb was aboard one train at Edgware Road, but it exploded as another train was passing and hit that train as well.
The fourth explosion on a bus just outside Tavistock Hotel.
Jarvis Medhurst told CNN: "I was working at the Tavistock Hotel and a bus exploded literally 40 meters away from me. There was a massive explosion and a cloud of smoke, and then when the smoke stated to die down, you could see the wrecked bus, which was on fire.
"There were bodies everywhere. Heads and bits of bodies, heads and arms and legs all ripped away.
"There seemed to be kids lying around as well as adults. I’m just in shock, it’s something I’ll never forget."
London Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and London’s fire brigade are investigating, according to Scotland Yard.
O’Reilly, who was at Aldgate station, saw passengers coming out of it with signs of smoke inhalation — black smudges around their mouths and noses.
"They’re pushing people away from the tube (train) station," O’Reilly said. "Police are telling us to evacuate the street."
Also at Aldgate, CNN producer Roger Clark said he had seen people with blood running down their faces, with many others looking stunned.
An eyewitness who was on a train told Clark the car in front of him exploded and then the the train tunnel filed with smoke.
map of where the explosions hit