At least thirty-three people were killed and hundreds more injured after a series of explosions hit the London Underground network and a double-decker bus yesterday morning.
British Transport Police initially blamed the blasts on power surges, but after an explosion on a bus in Tavistock Square near Euston, it was decided that the transport system had suffered bomb attacks.
White collar rail union TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty told News Line: ‘The union’s overriding concern is to find out the cause of the incident and to take what preventative steps are needed to stop anything like this happening again.’
In a RMT statement, general secretary Bob Crow said: ‘These terrible attacks show just how vulnerable commuters and Tube workers are. Tube workers and emergency services have responded magnificently and there is now a clear need to review security after such an attack.’
Train drivers union ASLEF also urged a comprehensive security review and praised train drivers.
Tony Woodley, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, praised the work of bus workers and support staff in the emergency services, saying: ‘It is a terrible and shocking day.’
He added: ‘These awful events will undoubtedly have a wider social and political impact.
‘We will do all we can, together with the rest of the trade union movement, to respond with strength and solidarity. Our response as a nation must be consistent with our culture of tolerance, and we will stand together with all communities to resist any expression of division and intolerance.’
The first blast occurred at at 8.49am between Aldgate East and Liverpool Street Tube stations. The emergency services were called after passengers heard a loud explosion and the electricity failed.
Other blasts followed shortly afterwards – between Russell Square and King’s Cross tube stations; at Edgware Road tube station; and on a bus at Tavistock Square.
One eyewitness who came out of Aldgate Tube station said: ‘The explosion happened at the back of a tube carriage. I was about 20 metres from it. There was a big hole. People were screaming and trying to get out.’
Another eyewitness in Holborn said: ‘About ten minutes ago I was walking up the street and I heard a loud explosion and people running towards me told me a bus had blown up.’
Prime Minister Blair, speaking from the Gleneagles summit, was the first to say the explosions were the result of a terrorist attack.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke, in statement to the House of Commons, said: ‘As yet we do not know who or what organisations are responsible for these criminal and appalling acts.’
He added: ‘The Cabinet was informed this morning and since then I’ve chaired COBRA meetings to ensure that the whole government commitment is properly coordinated and any necessary support is provided.
‘The prime minister is returning to London from Gleneagles to chair a COBRA meeting later today.’
Clarke admitted ‘there are a large number of rumours and uncertainties going around’, adding it is important ‘not to get drawn down too many speculative routes’.
Liberal Democrat Menzies Campbell said that the ‘temptation to speculate’ and ‘to attempt to draw early conclusions’ should ‘be resisted at all costs.’
He stressed: ‘Nothing would be worse than a rush to judgement based on incomplete information.’
Later, Blair made a joint statement on behalf of the G8 countries and guest nations attending the Gleneagles summit.
He said: ‘It’s reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London’ which were ‘designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8.’
He added: ‘It’s important however that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world.’
Also speaking at Gleneagles, US President Bush said: ‘The war on terror goes on. I was most impressed by the resolve of all the leaders in the room.’
He added: ‘We will not yield to these people, we will not yield to the terrorists. We will find them. We will bring them to justice.’
More than three hours later, at an emergency service press conference, Brian Paddick for the Metropolitan Police said: ‘We are treating this as a terror incident and keeping an open mind as to who the perpetrators might be. We have received no claim as to who was responsible.’