Thursday, July 21, 2005

London Tube Incidents

Three "incidents" on the Underground have called police to Sheperd's Bush, Warren Street and Oval tube stations, all of which have been evacuated. Smoke is reportedly coming from two of the stations. Northern, Hammersmith & City and Victoria Lines have all been closed. A number 26 bus on Columbia Road in Hackney was also stopped after the driver heard a bang from the upstairs deck.

Preliminary BBC reports here.



• 13.58: The incidents have been reported as "dummy explosions", meaning that only detonators went off, not actual charges. BBC now reporting them as "minor blasts."

• 14.04: Guardian Newsblog quotes SkyNews eyewitness who was on the train with the explosion at Warren Street: 'Someone dumped a large, black holdall or rucksack on the train and then ran off. Other passengers tried to stop him running away, but he escaped. Something in the bag went off, making a sound "like a Champagne cork popping". ' Also Warren Street explosion was reportedly a suicide bomb that didn't explode properly, therefore minimal damage reported so far.

• 14.12: British Transport Police spokesman says that "One person has received an injury at Warren Street. "We cannot confirm what the injury is, how it was received or who serious it is. We are still waiting for more information."

• 14.22: Tony Blair has cancelled a planned visit to a school in East London as well as a photo call later in the afternoon with Australian Prime Minister John Howard. No official statement as yet, but aides have been echoing that the general view at Number 10 is to sit tight and monitor the situation until it becomes clearer becomes clearer.

• 14.31: Radio Five Live is reporting that the immediate area around Sheperd's Bush tube has been evacuated after reports of an unexploded device. Police have also closed off University College Hospital near Warren Street after unconfirmed reports of a person running away after dropping a bag outside the tube station.

• 14.34: Richard Howse of Bracknell writes on the BBC website's Have Your Say: "Friends of mine are paramedics - they report that one of the stations has been ruled out, and the bus was just a coincidence. There was a fight and it just so happened to be reported at the same time as the evacuations. They are still taking the other two stations very seriously."

• 14.44: Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Ian Blair has called the tube blasts a "very serious incident" and has told Londoners to stay put. Most of the Underground system has been shut down now.

• 15.01: Radio Five Live is saying that a police search at Oval station has turned up no trace of chemical agents.

• 15.09: Police are investigating "a possible suspect package" on the Number 37 bus, says Radio Five Live.

• 15.11: The COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) committee met at 14.30, with Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Sir Ian in attendance. "Its membership includes the head of MI5, the police, and the civil contigencies secretariat, as well as other senior ministers" (Wikipedia). Tony Blair is due to make a statement at 15.15, but this appears to have been delayed.

• 15.12: Three armed police have entered University College Hospital after reports of a suicide bomber running free with an unexploded pack on his back, says BBC News 24. UPDATE: There's some speculation that this could be the man who was injured at Warren Street; i.e. the injured man could be the bomber himself.

• 15.31: A man has been arrested at gunpoint in Whitehall, directly opposite the gates of Downing Street. It is still unclear whether this is related to the incidents on the Underground other than through police panic.

• 15.40: Wood Lane in Sheperd's Bush, near the BBC studios, has been taped off. Euston Road has been cordoned off. All of Sheperd's Bush Green has been evacuated and sealed off.

• 15.42: Tony Blair is now addressing the public, John Howard also in attendance. Both PMs stress the need for calm and determination in the face of terrorism.

• 16.14: BBC reports that police search for a man "with wires protruding from his shirt" at University College Hospital is now over.

• 16.30: Developments seem to have stopped for the moment, and there don't seem to be any further casualties. Latest police report says that two people have been arrested in connection with the incidents today, presumably the suspect at Unviersity College Hospital and the man in Whitehall outside Downing Street.

• 16.47: Some tube drivers are refusing to work after the security alerts on the Underground, according to a BBC website report. The Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines have been affected by the "staff action". There is a statement on the RMT union website criticising "a number of instances where members are being instructed to carry out safety checks over and above what they would normally be required to do or which may not be appropriate in light of current security concerns." It is not clear, however, whether this was posted in light of today's security alerts or the attacks on 7 July.

• 17.30: Ken Livingstone and Sir Ian Blair are to hold a press conference in the next few hours.


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