Four small explosions strike London's transport system

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The location of Shepherd's Bush on the Hammersmith and City Line

London Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair has confirmed that there have been three small explosions on tube trains at Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd's Bush stations, and another small explosion on a No. 26 bus on Hackney Road in Bethnal Green.

The London Ambulance Service has not found any injured people, but one person has reported themselves to a local hospital. It is not yet known if this is connected with the blasts.

The location of Warren Street and Oval on the Northern line

All the devices were "conventional" but possibly faulty, and contained no chemical or biological agents. Not all the bombs exploded fully; Bomb Squad officers are working on making them safe. There are no reports of the deaths of suspects who attempted to set the explosives off.


A spokesman for Stagecoach said the driver of the number 26 bus travelling through Shoreditch had heard a bang on upper deck, gone upstairs and seen the windows were blown out. The bus driver was very shaken but is said to be fine. Reports of the windows having been blown out have been denied by a police officer on the scene. "I have seen the bus. There were no windows blown out," the officer told Reuters.

One injury sustained at Warren Street tube station has been confirmed by authorities. There have been no other reports of injuries, and authorities are reporting no casualties.

At around 15:25, a man was arrested by armed police in Whitehall, which is cordoned off. A second man was arrested in the Whitehall area around 16:15, but Police have confirmed that this arrest is unconnected with the explosions.

Armed police were deployed at UCL Hospital, near Warren Street tube station, after reports of a suspect entering the hospital. There was speculation that one of the bombers may have been injured and sought treatment at the hospital. A Scotland Yard spokesman had said "We are dealing with an incident at University College Hospital and we have armed officers deployed there. We cannot go in any further detail at this stage." A UCL spokeswoman confirmed that an email had been sent to staff asking them to be on the lookout for the suspect. At 16:00 a spokesman for the Metropolitan police confirmed that the incident was over, but armed police returned to the hospital 30 minutes later to search the premises. Police have now also confirmed this is unrelated to the explosions.


A picture of the Holborn area, where traffic has been suspended due to the events

Prime Minister Tony Blair has cancelled a visit to an east London school and a photocall with visiting Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, instead heading to a COBRA committee emergency meeting. Australian Prime Minister John Howard is in London and is involved in discussions with Tony Blair as this unfolds.

In a public press conference, Blair said that "there appear to have been no casualties", and that he wanted people to "React calmly, and continue with our lives". John Howard also stated that Australia stood by Britain and that people should "beware the minds of terrorists."

Police initially advised against unnecessary travel in London, asking Londoners to keep travel to a minimum and avoid the public transport system. At 15:52 Sir Ian Blair of the Metropolitan Police has asked Londoners to return to their normal activities, including travel. He also stated that some public transport services are not yet functioning.

A release from Scotland Yard stated that there was no chemical agents found after checking the Oval. Investigations at Shepherd's Bush station also confirmed no chemical agents.


The Northern line, the Hammersmith and City Line, the Piccadilly Line, and the Bakerloo Line have been suspended. Victoria Line and the Waterloo and City Line were suspended but reopened shortly after. Whitehall had been sealed off but reopened shortly after, only to be closed again after armed police surrounded and arrested a man outside the Ministry of Defence, however at a press conference at 17:45 Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said that this arrest was unconnected with the explosions.

Unconfirmed reports

Various news sites are reporting a minor explosion in a passenger's backpack. A BBC correspondent, claiming to have sources working in the London Underground, suggested the explosions were only detonators and that the bombs contained no explosives. It is also believed that reports of gunshots being heard at the stations are mistaken, passengers simply mistaking the sound of the detonators for the sound of gunshots.

A spokesman for London Underground has stated the nature of the incidents is unknown.

Eyewitness reports from Warren Street say that something happened towards the front of the train. The passengers all headed towards the back of the train. As the train pulled into the station somebody pulled the emergency alarm and all the passengers got off the train. There are reports of a 'burning rubber' smell from eyewitnesses.

25% of Shepherd's Bush / Uxbridge Road and all of Shepherd's Bush Green is sealed off.

Eyewitness report of "bang" in a carriage at Oval station. No injuries. After being spotted the suspect fled the station, leaving the suspect package unexploded in a carriage. (BBC News 24)

London Police are not regarding this as a major incident yet. (BBC News 24)

British Transport Police report there has been one injury at Warren Street Station. No details as to the cause and nature of this injury are available, although BBC News are speculating that the injury is to the person who set off the device.

There are reports of problems sending text messages or making calls from mobiles phones on some networks. (O2 confirmed, Orange is fine, occasional text service but no calls on Vodafone) O2 provide communications services for emergency teams across the UK and have previously prioritized their network usage for this use.

Emergency Numbers

Police evacuate the area near St Paul's Cathedral after the explosions. Photo: Adam Randall

Note: Please don't call these numbers just because you can't get through - some of the mobile networks are temporarily down or disrupted. At the moment the services are saying there are no mass casualties from these incidents (see below).

  • Central emergency number: 0870 156 6344 (Metropolitan Police)
  • Metropolitan Police: 020 7766 6020 (UK)   +44 20 7766 6020 (International)
  • British Transport Police: 020 8358 0101 (UK)   +44 20 8358 0101 (International)
  • Those outside the UK should see the list of Foreign Ministry contact details.


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.