Sunday 18 February 2018

Hunt for Tube 'bucket bomber' who injured 29 in bungled blast

British Prime Minister orders soldiers on to streets as terror threat is raised

Armed police officers at Parsons Green tube station in London, after yesterday’s blast Photo: Kevin Coombs
Armed police officers at Parsons Green tube station in London, after yesterday’s blast Photo: Kevin Coombs

Kevin Coombs

Britain's prime minister ordered troops on to the streets last night after a suspected Islamist placed a powerful time-bomb on a packed rush-hour train heading towards Westminster.

Theresa May took the decision after the independent Joint Terrorism Assessment Centre recommended raising the terror threat to its highest level, Critical, meaning another attack is believed to be imminent.

The army will deploy troops at key locations around the capital to free up police who were last night involved in a huge manhunt.

Terror group Isil claimed responsibility for the attack, which left 29 people injured - including a boy of 10 - when an improvised explosive device went off on a packed District line train at Parsons Green in south-west London. At least one Irish person was confirmed injured, though not seriously.

One of the 29 passengers injured in the blast. Photo: Kevin Coombs
One of the 29 passengers injured in the blast. Photo: Kevin Coombs

The main device, which was packed with shrapnel and fitted with a crude timer, failed to detonate, meaning potentially hundreds of lives were spared.

Police think the bomb may have accidentally detonated prematurely, with Westminster station the intended target.

Witnesses described scenes of terror and panic after the blast sent a "fireball" and a "wall of flame" through the carriage.

A major manhunt for the bomber has been launched, with police working with MI5 as they examine the device.

No arrests have so far been made and the attacker remains at large, with a report that the security services have identified a suspect from CCTV.

After the attack during the morning rush-hour, Britain's most senior counter-terror officer Mark Rowley said: "We now assess this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device."

Most of the injured suffered "flash burns" from the device. Others were trampled and suffered crush injuries in the rush to escape the packed carriage, which was the last in the train.

Witnesses reported seeing people "covered in blood" after a "flash and a bang" from the device sent a "fireball" through the packed Tube train.

Pictures and video posted on social media showed a flaming bucket - which appeared to have wires coming from it - inside a Lidl carrier bag on the floor of a carriage.

Emergency services including armed police rushed to the scene after being alerted at around 8.20am.

Peter Crowley, a sales consultant, posted a picture on his Twitter feed showing his charred scalp, his hair burnt to the roots.

"I heard a large bang from the doors on the other side of the Tube train and this fireball came towards my head and singed off all my hair," said Mr Crowley (37) from Sutton in south London. "It was a really hot, intense fireball above my head. I've just got red marks and burns to the top of my head. There were a lot of people a lot worse than me."

He saw one man burnt across the side of his face while his puffa jacket was set alight.

A caller to LBC radio station said he was speaking from hospital where he was being treated for burns. "It's my head, and it's my hair. Just hurts. It's crazy. There was a flame in my face. There were just people with hair on fire... hands on fire."

Luke Warmsley (33) who was on the train, said: "It was like a large match had gone off at the end of the carriage. There was a plume of smoke. I looked and just saw more and more people running towards me."

Lauren Hubbard (24) who was in the end carriage of the train with her boyfriend, heard a loud bang and saw a "fireball" racing in her direction.

"It was hot and just came towards you, this flaming orange coming towards you. It smelt like burning," she recalled. "We ran and hid behind cement boxes on the tracks and were the last people to get off the platform."

She knew straight away what was happening. "My first thought was 'this is a terrorist attack, I'm going to die'."

Mrs May returned to London to chair a meeting of Britain's emergency response committee later yesterday.

"My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and the emergency services who, once again, are responding swiftly and bravely to a suspected terrorist incident," Mrs May said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "We've been in touch with our embassy in London in relation to the suspected terrorist attack that occurred on the London Underground today.

"We will continue to keep in touch with the authorities in London and a helpline has been established for anybody seeking information."

The number is (01) 4082527.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News