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London Underground recordings reveal confusion after July 7 bombings
CONFUSING information in the minutes after the terrorist attacks on July 7, 2005, may have stopped rescuers getting to wounded people quickly, an inquest heard today.
Twenty one people from Barnet, Borehamwood, Haringey, Wembley and Enfield died when four Al-Qaeda affiliated suicide bombers detonated home-made devices on three Tube trains and a bus during rush hour.
This afternoon the inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice into the deaths of the 52 people that day heard recordings of conversations between London Underground employees.
In the recordings, it becomes clear staff at Edgware Road, Aldgate and Kings Cross stations are not sure what has happened for several minutes after the blasts.
Three of the bombers — Jermaine Lindsay, Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammed Sidique Khan — detonated their bombs at around 8.49am on busy Tube trains which had just left stations.
A montage of calls between station managers, emergency services and the Network Control Centre (NCC) revealed confusion from staff on the scene about what had happened and even which trains were involved.
The logs show staff at the centre registering the incidents as short circuits in wires along the tunnel walls, and reports something had exploded in the tunnel near Aldgate station.
By 8.58am, staff at the stations reported smoke coming from the tunnels and “walking wounded” at Aldgate and Edgware Road stations, where the cause was initially attributed to a train hitting a wall.
Despite calls from British Transport Police officers voicing concerns about the incident, and one from the station manager at Edgware Road saying “something's gone badly wrong” just after 9am, NCC staff told the Railway Inspectorate at 9.30am it is “not terrorism related”.
More than 30 minutes passed before a Code Amber, or complete network shutdown, was invoked by NCC managers.
By 9.18am Inspector Munn of the BTP had accessed the Aldgate train and confirmed it had exploded, requesting fire crews be reassured the power is off in the tunnels before they went down.
However, all three bombs occurred in tunnels, not at platforms, making it difficult, said Hugo Keith QC, to establish exactly what happened.
He told the hearing: “These calls recall the considerable difficulties in establishing the information coming in and plainly a very confused picture was coming in.
“There was a considerable amount of time elapsed from the explosion of the bombs to the acceptance by staff at the NCC that, in fact, they were bomb-related.”
Logs from police, fire and ambulance control centres also show confused information being sent to them by people on the ground, with crews being sent to wrong addresses, in particular at Edgware Road where they are given an address for nearby Praed Street rather than Chapel Street.
Mr Keith told the inquests this information would have an impact on considerations by coroner Lady Justice Heather Hallett, as to whether these delays may have led to the deaths of some people caught up in the bombings.
The inquest is expected to last until next spring.