Smeared in blood and crying hysterically, hundreds of people
poured into London’s streets after the first of three bombs on underground trains exploded.
In less than an hour, two more underground trains were ripped apart by more blasts, and then the top of a double-decker bus was peeled off “like a tin can”, one witness said, by a fourth and final bomb.
The busy rush-hour streets were soon filled with ambulances and fire engines as thousands of passengers fled underground stations with horrific tales of body parts strewn across the rail tracks.
Ayobami Bello, 46, a security guard, described how the force of one of the bombs tore the roof off the double-decker bus near Russell Square, in central London, that left at least two people dead and many wounded.
“The back was completely gone, it was blown off completely and a dead body was hanging out and there were dead bodies on the road, it was a horrible thing,” he said, adding that other bodies sat slumped in their bus seats, some with arms and legs missing.
“There was panic and everyone was running for their lives. I saw a lady coming towards me soaked in blood. Everyone was in confusion,” said Mr Bello.
London’s bus routes were temporarily suspended along with the underground network after the coordinated strike, which left the capital in a state of shock.
Thousands of people were left trapped on blackened underground trains that ground to a halt when the explosions ripped through the carriages.
“There was a loud bang and the train ground to a halt. People started panicking, screaming and crying as smoke came into the carriage,” said Arash Kazerouni, 22, who had been travelling from Liverpool Street station.
As news of the carnage spread, many businesses closed or let staff leave early.
Hospitals were overrun with hundreds of people suffering blast injuries, lacerations, burns or fractures and scrapes.
Michael Henning, 39, a broker, left the Royal London Hospital in east London with a patch over his eye and cuts on his face caused by flying glass in one Underground bomb blast between Liverpool Street and Aldgate stations.
“I was travelling to Tower Hill to a meeting, and nearly got into the carriage where the bomb went off, but thought it looked busy, so went in the next one. I was about 10 feet (three metres) from where the bomb went off,” he said.
“I saw silver travelling through the air, that was the glass, and a yellow flash,” said Mr Henning.
In the aftermath of the blasts, mobile phone networks swiftly became overloaded as people in Britain and abroad checked on the safety of loved ones.
“As soon as it started happening people at home tried to get us on the phone but the mobile networks were down,” said Andrew Henwood, a South African information technology worker who has lived in London for five years.
“Some people didn’t know what was happening and they feared the worst.”
Meanwhile, London’s large Muslim community wondered whether they could face a backlash after a group associated with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda group claimed responsibility.
“It is very, very bad. Both what has happened and what could happen to us,” said Zahid Rahman, a further education college worker of Bangladeshi origin, speaking in a predominantly Muslim area near the scene of the Aldgate blast.