Parsons Green explosion: Hunt for Tube bucket bomber – latest news
- Parsons Green Tube explosion declared a terrorist incident
- Attacker remains at large after home-made bomb detonated
- Suspect ‘identified by security services from CCTV footage’
- Most of 22 injured suffer flash burns from device ‘with timer’
- Others trampled as they flee bucket bomb on District Line
- Theresa May criticises Donald Trump over ‘unhelpful’ tweet
- ‘I heard a boom… then there were flames’: What witnesses saw
- Everything we know so far about the Parsons Green attack
- ‘The kettle’s on’: Londoners’ very British response to bombing
A huge counter-terrorism investigation is under way after a bucket bomb was detonated on a packed London Underground train at Parsons Green.
Witnesses described scenes of terror and panic after the blast sent a “fireball” and a “wall of flame” through a District line service in west London. At least 22 people were injured, including a boy believed to be aged about 10.
A major manhunt for the bomber has been launched, with police working with MI5 as they forensically examine the device. No arrests have so far been made and the attacker remains at large, with an unconfirmed report that the security services have identified a suspect from CCTV.
After the attack during the Friday 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.”
A total of 22 people – including children – were injured in the explosion, with most of them suffering from “flash burns”.
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, but 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.
The device is not believed to have fully detonated and it is reported that it could have been set off on a timer.
Emergency services including armed police rushed to the scene after being alerted at around 8.20am.
After chairing a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “cowardly” attack – and confirmed the UK terror threat level remains unchanged at severe.
It comes with Britain on high alert after four terror attacks in 2017. The official threat level currently stands at severe – meaning an attack is seen as “highly likely”.
‘Police need more resources to boost safety’ – security experts
British Transport Police (BTP) should be given more resources to boost safety on London Underground, a security expert has said.
Deploying more officers should be prioritised over installing check points at Tube stations, according to Will Geddes, founder of private security firm International Corporate Protection.
Introducing airport-style barriers “is not necessarily going to be a solution” because of the huge number of passengers using the network.
“The terrorist is always going to look for the path of least resistance,” he said.
“If you’ve got additional checkpoints on the exterior of the airport or the Tube station, you create a choke point, you create a build-up of individuals which could be exploited.
“What will hopefully happen is BTP will be given more resources to continue initiatives they’re currently running, where they have periodic sweeps by plain-clothed covert officers who are carrying out hostile surveillance detection.
“They’re ideally picking up on individuals who might be planning to do something or are in the right position to be able to react as quickly as possible should something happen.”
Around 700 uniformed BTP personnel are deployed on the Tube and Docklands Light Railway, part of 3,000 across the capital’s transport network.
Mr Geddes said passengers play a “critical part” in combating terrorism.
“It couldn’t be more true, especially on the Underground,” he said.
“You’ve seen the posters, you’ve heard the announcements. If you see an unattended package, or something else suspicious, report it.
“It’s really, really key. The general public are the eyes and ears on the ground.”
A bomb blast tore through an underground train deep in St Petersburg, Russia, on April 3, killing 11 people.
About 100 people were killed when two bombs were detonated outside Ankara train station in Turkey in October 2015.
Locals offer tea and pizza to those caught up in attack
Free pizza, cups of tea and spare phone chargers were on offer around Parsons Green as well-meaning residents sprung into action following the outrage.
West Londoners fastened signs to their front doors telling anyone affected to come if they need anything from a beverage to a toilet break.
At the fringes of the police cordon, Teo Citino, the owner of nearby restaurant Il Pagliaccio, piled a fold-out table with free pizza for the emergency services.
The 52-year-old said: “One of the reasons I’m here is that my wife and daughter could have been on that train, I live next to the station. I rang my wife right away, they were evacuated from the house in pyjamas.
“I must admit, I have been very, very lucky because they usually get the train to go to my daughter’s school, she is 12 years old.
“My second reason is that it is a way to say thank you to those who provide services – the fire brigade, police and nurses – because I don’t believe they receive enough money.”
Other residents from near the site of the attack approached members of the Press and offered them access to phone chargers and a place to sit down inside.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council was also on hand, opening a local community centre as a rest place for those whose homes were within the police cordon.
Social media was similarly awash with people offering a comforting hot drink to those caught up in the aftermath.
Bucket bomb seen before in failed UK terror attacks
The improvised bucket bomb left on the Tube at Parsons Green bears the hallmarks of previous failed bombing attempts in the UK, according to experts.
Academics and chemical experts suggested that, while the device caused what witnesses described as a “fireball”, it failed to fully detonate.
Dr Lewis Herrington, a lecturer and terrorism expert at Loughborough University, said the use of a timer was “key”, as it distinguished it from the suicide attacks on July 7 2005 and at the Manchester Arena earlier this year.
He said: “A timing device is critical – if you look at all the other attacks, the Westminster attack, Khuram Butt, Salman Abedi, they all wanted to die.
“That’s not present and that really sends alarm bells. This guy really wanted to pack a punch.
“The initiator succeeded hence the reported fireball but clearly the explosive element failed.”
Dr Herrington said the attack instead bore echoes of the case of Damon Smith, 20, who was jailed for 15 years in May after leaving a home-made bomb in a rucksack containing ball bearing shrapnel on a Jubilee Line train.
Smith, who had autism and was not motivated by terrorism, created the bomb after finding a guide online.
Area around Parsons Green evacuated so ‘remnants of bomb’ can be secured
Scotland Yard said the area surrounding Parsons Green Tube station has been evacuated so specialist officers could “secure the remnants of the improvised device and ensure it is stable”.
A spokesman added: “A small number of residents will be affected by the evacuation, which encompasses an area approximately 50 metres in radius.” The Tube station remains closed.
Meanwhile, more than 50 residents evacuated following the attack are being looked after at the Lancaster Court community centre, reports Nicola Harley.
Council officers said they do not know how long people will be stuck here.
Donald Trump: ‘We have to be very, very tough’
Asked about the London terror attack by reporters outside the White House in Washington, US President Donald Trump said: “It’s a terrible thing. It just keeps going and going, and we have to be very smart, we have to be very, very tough. Perhaps we are not nearly tough enough.
“It’s just an absolutely terrible thing. In fact, I’m going to call the Prime Minister right now. We have to be tougher and we have to be smarter.”
Security services have ‘identified suspect from CCTV’ – report
The security services have identified a suspect in the Parsons Green bombing from CCTV footage, according to an unconfirmed report by Sky News.
Tube commuter: I thought I was going to die
Passenger Emma Stevie was in the Tube carriage when the device exploded. Here she describes the moment people were crushed as they tried to escape:
Theresa May condemns ‘cowardly’ attack – and rebukes Donald Trump over tweet
Theresa May has rebuked US President Donald Trump over his Parsons Green comments on Twitter, saying: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”
The Prime Minister also condemned the “cowardly” attack, saying: “This was a device intended to cause significant harm.”She also confirmed that the UK terror threat level remains unchanged at severe and is not being raised to critical.
Mrs May was speaking following a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee.
Scotland Yard: Donald Trump’s Tube bomber comments ‘unhelpful and pure speculation’
Scotland Yard has dismissed a claim by Donald Trump that the Parsons Green Tube bombers had been “in the sights” of police as “pure speculation”.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the US president’s comments – which did not correspond with any information released by the UK authorities – were “unhelpful”.
Mr Trump made the provocative allegation in a trademark tweet as police launched a major manhunt to track down the perpetrators responsible for planting the device on a packed commuter train.
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” he wrote. “These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”
His claim threatened to spark a fresh row over US-UK intelligence sharing arrangements which have already come under strain since he entered the White House.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The comments are unhelpful and pure speculation. If anyone has got any evidence or information, please contact the anti-terrorism hotline.”
‘They were shouting ‘stop, stop, stop”: Passenger describes crush chaos
Tube passenger Ryan Barnett said there was a crush of people on the stairs as commuters ran from the scene of the blast.
The 25-year-old, who works in politics and had been travelling to his office, said: “The stewards and other passengers, they are shouting ‘stop, stop, stop’, so I ended up squashed on the staircase, people were falling over, people fainting, crying, there were little kids clinging on to the back of me.
“It is absolute chaos, it was quite scary because at one stage we thought we might be trapped there – I heard a pregnant woman lost her shoes and had fallen over.”
Police forensics officers scour carriage where bomb was detonated
Here are the latest pictures reaching us from Parsons Green as police forensics officers continue to examine the device that partially exploded and the Tube train.
Meanwhile, other detectives are scouring CCTV footage and examining witness statements for potential leads.
Parsons Green bomb comes after four UK terror attacks so far this year
The blast comes with the UK on high alert following four terrorist attacks so far this year.
Authorities have foiled 19 plots since the middle of 2013 – including six since the Westminster atrocity in March.
The incident comes a day after figures revealed terror-related arrests in Britain have hit a new record high, with suspects held at a rate of more than one every day.
Police and MI5 are running 500 investigations involving 3,000 individuals at any one time, while there are also 20,000 former “subjects of interest” whose risk must be kept under review
‘There was a stampede and people started crushing each other’
Standing outside St Thomas and Guy’s Hospital, a woman who was on the Tube when the blast happened, told The Telegraph’s Harry Yorke: “I was stood at the opposite end of the Tube, in the front carriage. I was on my way to work.
“I didn’t hear anything, we just heard people screaming. We just ran to the exit, but there was a stampede and people started crushing each other.
“People were just scrambling and trying to get out through the entrance. My sister was in the carriage and was injured in the blast.”
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said her sister had been taken to A&E and was currently being treated for burns.
Commuter in blast carriage tells of ‘flaming orange’ fireball
Tube passenger Lauren Hubbard, who was end in the end carriage of the train with her boyfriend, said she heard a loud bang and saw a “fireball” coming towards her, reports Laura Hughes.
The 24-year-old said: “It was hot and just came towards you, this flaming orange coming towards you. It smelt like burning.
“We hid behind cement boxes on the tube platform and were the last people to get off the platform.”
She said her first thought was: “Terrorist attack… I’m going to die.”
Another witness, who works next to the station, said he saw people pouring out the station looking “shellshocked” and “panicked”.
Another witness told the BBC: “I was walking towards the station and suddenly lots of people came running down the stairs shocked and tearful and saying that there had been an explosion.
“People were saying there had been a wall of flames coming down the Tube carriage. I turned around and came back from the Tube station with all of them.”
Police confirm no arrests so far as manhunt continues
Scotland Yard have confirmed that no arrests have so far been made.
A spokesman said: “Detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command, part of the national counter-terrorism police network, are making fast-time inquiries to establish who was responsible and are working closely with the security services. So far there have been no arrests.”
The passengers who fled along train tracks after blast
Passenger Jose Sarango was on a Tube train about to pull into Parsons Green as terrified commuters began along the tracks opposite to flee the device, reports Steve Bird.
“We had nearly reached Parsons Green at about 8.25am when our train from Victoria suddenly stopped. The driver announced that there was a problem with the train ahead.
“That was when we saw people, mainly adults and many wearing suits, filing nervously along the train tracks opposite away from the station towards Fulham.
“Many of them looked panicked as they tried to pass trains stacked up. Some of them were running and looking behind at the train they had just been on in the station. They were clearly very worried.”
Mr Sarango, a 52-year-old cleaner from Stockwell who was travelling to Parsons Green to have breakfast with his wife before work, said he was stuck on his train for an hour and watched as scores of passengers fled past his carriage.
“The driver then told the passengers to move to the back and we were let off to walk along the tracks,” he continued.
“I felt very nervous. No one knew exactly what was happening. People had begun looking at their phones and saw reports of people saying there had been some kind of explosion. That news meant we were even more worried.”
Mr Sarango and his fellow passengers were led down a back route along the tracks to Parsons Green.
“I was reassured to see lots of armed police, police cars and sniffer dogs. But, it was scarey.”
His wife, Cecelia Velez, had been waiting to have breakfast at Gail’s coffee shop on Fulham Road before their shift as cleaners at a local shop.
When she called him he warned her about the terror fears. Minutes later, police ordered her and staff at the restaurant to take cover downstairs.
“I suffer a blood pressure condition. And, I could feel my blood pressure drop,” she said. “We didn’t know what was going on, we were simply told that there had been an ‘incident’, but our phones told us otherwise.
“I still feel a little cold, but the staff here have given me coffee and sugar to help.”
Amber Rudd condemns ‘callous and indiscriminate’ attack
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has condemned the Parsons Green blast, saying: “Once more people going about their everyday lives have been targeted in a callous and indiscriminate way.
“My thoughts are with all those injured and affected. The police and emergency services were quickly on the scene and I would like to pay tribute again to their professionalism and tireless commitment.
“I am receiving regular updates on what is an ongoing and active investigation. I would urge Londoners to remain alert and assist the police and emergency services as much as they can.”
Sadiq Khan: An attempt by evil and cowardly… to disrupt our way of life
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has issued a statement in which he said: “This was an attempt by evil and cowardly individuals to kill and disrupt our way of life.”
Mr Khan told LBC: “There is a manhunt under way as we speak.”
Sadiq Khan: Blast shows threat facing London
Residents evacuated as police check for any other potential devices
Residents surrounding the Tube station have been evacuated from homes as police check for any other potential devices, reports Nicola Harley.
“There are searching homes, workmen told me they are checking for any other devices,” a witness said. “We don’t know when they will let us return.”
Witness Luke Warmsley was in the carriage where the device exploded.
“It was like a large match had gone off at the end of the carriage,” he told LBC radio.
“There was a plume of smoke that went off. I looked down the carriage and just saw more and more people running towards me.”
Another witness said she saw people with burns and medics were placing plastic over their injuries.
Council leader ‘outraged’ by explosion
Stephen Cowan, the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, the area in which the attack took place, said he was “outraged” by the explosion. He said:
“Around 8.20 this morning a package exploded in the final carriage of a District Line train at Parsons Green station, it is being treated as a terrorist incident.
“What is extremely impressive was that the emergency services were on to the situation immediately, there is a completely co-ordinated effort and there is no reason to be overly concerned.
“I would stress that people should be reassured because this is being dealt with very effectively by everyone in the emergency services.
“I can’t tell you how angry I am, I am absolutely outraged that someone could do this – attacking innocent lives, putting those people at risk and causing fear and harm is not a way to express yourself.
“This kind of terrorism needs to be stamped out, but people need to recognise that in London we have one of the most amazing cities anywhere, they are not going to damage us, they are not going to beat us.”
Total number of those injured in Parsons Green rises to 22
In addition to the 18 victims taken to hospital by ambulance, four others took themselves to hospital, the NHS said. Here is where they are being treated:
- Imperial – three patients
- Chelsea and Westminster – eight
- Guy’s and St Thomas’ – eight
- Central London Community Healthcare Urgent Care Centre in Parsons Green – three
Jeremy Corbyn thanks emergency services for response
Writing on Twitter, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has thanked the emergency services for their response to the terror attack:
Donald Trump denounces attack by ‘loser terrorist’
US President Donald Trump has denounced the attack by a “loser terrorist”, suggesting that such attackers “were in the sights of Scotland Yard”:
Police: Blast caused by ‘detonation of improvised explosive device’
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said the Parsons Green explosion was caused by the “detonation of an improvised explosive device”.
Mr Rowley said it was understood that “most” of the 18 injured were suffering from “flash burns”.
- He added that:
- Hundreds of detectives are involved in the investigation – including scouring CCTV footage and speaking to witnesses
- MI5 is supporting the police investigation
- Londoners can expect to see an enhanced police presence on the capital’s transport network this weekend
Commuters tell of ‘mass pile-up’ trying to flee Tube train
One witness told The Telegraph’s Laura Hughes: “It was extraordinary – just panic as everyone legged it off the train.
“I got stuck in a mass pile-up as everyone tried to get down the stairs. People were falling on top of each other trying to get out.”
A passenger on the train ahead, who gave his name only as Mike, told the Telegraph: “We were taken off the train at Fulham Broadway. The driver reported a mayday call had been received from Parsons Green.”