Friday 2 December 2016

7/7 bus survivors pay silent tribute at scene of bomb ten years on

Dominic Harris

Published 07/07/2015 | 14:31

(From the right) Imam Qari Asim, Imam of Makkah Masjid, Leeds?? largest mosque; Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi, Movement for Reform Judaism; Julie Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Britain, Revd Bertrand Olivier, Vicar of All-Hallows-by-the-Tower, London, carry a floral tribute to Tavistock Square, London, as faith leaders retraced where the devastating 7/7 London bombings took nearly 10years ago. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
(From the right) Imam Qari Asim, Imam of Makkah Masjid, Leeds?? largest mosque; Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi, Movement for Reform Judaism; Julie Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Britain, Revd Bertrand Olivier, Vicar of All-Hallows-by-the-Tower, London, carry a floral tribute to Tavistock Square, London, as faith leaders retraced where the devastating 7/7 London bombings took nearly 10years ago. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
A memorial plaque is attached to railings in Tavistock Square, in memory of those who lost their lives on a number 30 double-decker bus during the 7/7 attack in 2005, in London, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A passenger on a double-decker bus passes the memorial plaque attached to railings in Tavistock Square, in memory of those who lost their lives on a number 30 double-decker bus during the 7/7 attack in 2005, in London, Britain, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
A passenger on a double-decker bus passes the memorial plaque attached to railings in Tavistock Square, in memory of those who lost their lives on a number 30 double-decker bus during the 7/7 attack in 2005, in London, Britain, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Passers-by look at a memorial plaque attached to railings in Tavistock Square, in memory of those who lost their lives on a number 30 double-decker bus during the 7/7 attack in 2005, in London, Britain, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
People gather in Tavistock Square, London, as they pay their respects and remember the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 7, 2015. See PA story MEMORIAL July7. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
People look at flowers left in Tavistock Square, London, as Britain remembers the July 7 attacks amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 7, 2015. See PA story MEMORIAL July7. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
George Psaradakis (centre), the driver of the number 30 bus which was blown up in Tavistock Square, looks at floral tributes left close to the scene of the bombings in London, as Britain remembers the July 7 attacks amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

It is an image of the July 7 attacks that is forever burned into the public consciousness - that of a red London doubled-decker bus, shredded and split open, its twisted metal lying across the streets of Tavistock Square.

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Ten years on, survivors of that carnage and those who rushed to help the injured returned to the scene to reflect on their memories of the horror.

Composite of handout photographs of some of the victims of the London terrorist attacks on 7 July 2005. Top row from left, victims of the Russell Square bomb: Helen Jones, 28; Ciaran Cassidy, 22; Gamze Gunoral, 24; Christian Small; Karolina Gluck. Second row from left, victims of the Russell Square bomb: Couple Lee Harris, 30, and Samatha Badham, 36; Atique Sharifi, 24; Elizabeth Daplyn, 20; Adrian Johnson, 37; Monika Suchocka, 23. Third row from left, victims of the Russell Square bomb: Susan Levy, 53; James Mayes, 28; James Adams; Rachelle Yuen; Ihab Slimane,19. Fourth row from left, victims of the Tavistock Square bomb: Shyanuja Parathasangary; Giles Hart; Anthony Fatayi-Williams; Marie Hartley; Miriam Hyman. Fifth row from left: victims of the Tavistock Square bomb Jamie Gordon and Neetu Jain; victims of the Aldgate bomb Richard Gray, Benedetta Ciaccia and Richard Ellery. Bottom row from left: Aldgate bomb victim Fiona Stevenson; Edgware Road bomb victims David Foulkes, Jonathan Downey, Laura Webb and Jennifer Nicholson. PA Wire
Composite of handout photographs of some of the victims of the London terrorist attacks on 7 July 2005. Top row from left, victims of the Russell Square bomb: Helen Jones, 28; Ciaran Cassidy, 22; Gamze Gunoral, 24; Christian Small; Karolina Gluck. Second row from left, victims of the Russell Square bomb: Couple Lee Harris, 30, and Samatha Badham, 36; Atique Sharifi, 24; Elizabeth Daplyn, 20; Adrian Johnson, 37; Monika Suchocka, 23. Third row from left, victims of the Russell Square bomb: Susan Levy, 53; James Mayes, 28; James Adams; Rachelle Yuen; Ihab Slimane,19. Fourth row from left, victims of the Tavistock Square bomb: Shyanuja Parathasangary; Giles Hart; Anthony Fatayi-Williams; Marie Hartley; Miriam Hyman. Fifth row from left: victims of the Tavistock Square bomb Jamie Gordon and Neetu Jain; victims of the Aldgate bomb Richard Gray, Benedetta Ciaccia and Richard Ellery. Bottom row from left: Aldgate bomb victim Fiona Stevenson; Edgware Road bomb victims David Foulkes, Jonathan Downey, Laura Webb and Jennifer Nicholson. PA Wire

It was at 9.47am that morning that 18-year-old Hasib Hussain, the youngest of the four bombers, detonated a bomb on the top deck of the number 30 bus, killing 13 people and injuring more than 110.

By chance, the explosion occurred just a stone's throw from the headquarters of the British Medical Association (BMA), where a conference was being held, and scores of doctors and staff ran to help.

Today families and friends of those who died gathered at the exact spot the bomb went off, where a small plaque records the names of the dead. Among those laying flowers outside the BMA was George Psaradakis, the driver of the bus.

As people paused by the bouquets, off to one side a man sat cross-legged on the ground, eyes shut tight and hands pressed together as he prayed quietly by a small bunch of flowers tied to the railings.

People gather in Tavistock Square, London, as they pay their respects and remember the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
People gather in Tavistock Square, London, as they pay their respects and remember the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
George Psaradakis (centre), the driver of the number 30 bus which was blown up in Tavistock Square, looks at floral tributes left close to the scene of the bombings in London, as Britain remembers the July 7 attacks amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
File photo dated 7/7/05 of The scene in Tavistock Square, Central London, after a bomb ripped through a double decker bus following the terrorist attacks on the capital. ... 7/7 bombings anniversary Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Across the road more survivors and family members gathered for a memorial service. Rabbi Shlomo Levin from South Hampstead synagogue gave a prayer of remembrance and Dr Paul Holden, who commanded the casualty clearing site at the scene, lit a candle.

Then, at 9.47am exactly, the crowd fell silent, a minute of quiet contemplation rooted in memory, regret, anger, sadness and love.

During his prayer, Rabbi Levin asked for "rest and the absence of anguish" for the souls of the 13 people who were killed at the hands of "evil men" who were bent on causing death, mayhem and destruction.

He said: "Grant strength to the survivors and the families of the dead that they may rebuild their lives in honour and dignity free from the fear of stalking evil.

People gather in Tavistock Square, London, as they pay their respects and remember the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
People gather in Tavistock Square, London, as they pay their respects and remember the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
People stop to observe a minute's silence in Tavistock Square, London in memory of the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, as Britain remembers the attacks amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

"May the death of these fellow citizens reinforce the conviction of all decent men and women that life takes precedence over death, that good will outweigh evil and that in our society acts of religious intolerance and destruction will never be permitted to prevail."

Jacky Berry, from the BMA, spoke to the hundreds-strong crowd about the bravery of staff at the association who helped save so many lives after the bomb went off.

Around 20 doctors were at the BMA that day for a conference, and their decisive actions in the immediate aftermath proved critical.

Ms Berry said: "Within seconds of the bomb exploding outside BMA House on July 7 2005, a police officer at the scene shouted 'run'.

People walk past flowers in Tavistock Square, London left in memory of the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
People walk past flowers in Tavistock Square, London left in memory of the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
People stop to observe a minute's silence in Tavistock Square, London in memory of the victims of the July 7 bombings exactly 10 years after London's transport network came under attack, as Britain remembers the attacks amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

"Almost everyone ran. Today, we remember those whose injuries meant they couldn't run. But we also remember those whose instinct it was to run towards the bus, not away from it."

The doctors were GPs, she said, medical professionals who would see trauma on such a large scale rarely, if ever.

But they reponded by taking the suffering inside the BMA, using table tops as stretchers and making use of table cloths and tea towels as improvised dressings until supplies arrived.

She said: "They lacked the most basic equipment, but there was so much they had, and were able to give, to the passengers of the number 30 bus.

"Under superb leadership, those doctors formed an instant, effective and compassionate team. Their actions, but more than that their kindness, are still remembered by those whom they treated."

File photo dated 8/7/05 of The number 30 double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, which was destroyed by a bomb following the terrorist attacks on the capital. Peter Macdiarmid/PA Wire
File photo dated 8/7/05 of The number 30 double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, which was destroyed by a bomb following the terrorist attacks on the capital. Peter Macdiarmid/PA Wire
George Psaradakis (second left), the driver of the number 30 bus which was blown up in Tavistock Square, looks at floral tributes left close to the scene of the bombings in London, as Britain remembers the July 7 attacks amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

She added: "Today is about remembering, but also about healing. There are physical wounds, and while many have been healed or at last alleviated, for some the need for physical healing continues."

The mayor of Camden Larraine Revah was joined by the deputy lieutenant for London Sir Ian Johnston in laying a wreath at the foot of the memorial candle, and after many of the friends and family members left for a service at St Paul's Cathedral there were also speeches from the Reverend Jenny Hogan and Imam Mehmed Stublla, from the British Albanian Muslim Community in Camden.

And as Alice Fidler, a 15-year-old pupil at La Sainte Union School in Highgate who was just five when the atrocity occurred, sang the hymn Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace, people came forward to light candles of remembrance.

Among those at the service was Stephen Boyd, 58, who on the day was working as a security supervisor at the BMA's entrance, signing people in and out.

Mr Boyd said he felt the ceremony was a wonderful way for people to get together and see that there is "still a lot of love in the world".

He attended to pay his respects to the families who had lost loved ones and to thank the doctors and emergency services who "performed marvellously" on the day.

But he said he had been traumatised by "one of the most tragic events I have ever known", and that the anniversary "breaks my heart" every year.

Recalling the incident, he said: "The explosion happened on the bus and I came outside the building to see what was going on.

"Obviously from then you just go into overdrive and you just do everything you can to help under such atrocious circumstances, and you can't do no more.

"It wasn't just me, obviously not - there were doctors, police, ambulance, emergency services, staff - and their efforts I will never forget.

"I will always be grateful to everybody who was there, for the right reasons, to try and help the hurt, injured and traumatised and those who lost their lives."

Describing the attacks as "just appalling", he said: "I can't see how an event like that wins anything.

"I think it is a travesty in itself and I can never forgive them (the bombers) for what they have done.

"But it is wonderful to see the people here today that can have such love and kindness for each other, and no matter what they have done they will never take that away."

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