Friday, July 08, 2005

Kings Cross Bomb - my eyewitness account from the bombed carriage

I was on a crowded train to work. It was 8.40am when I boarded the rammed Piccadilly line train at Finsbury Park.
Normally I board half way up the train, but the train was so full, I walked up to the front of the train.
I was in the first carriage, behind the driver's carriage, standing by the doors - it was absolutely packed.
Even more people got on at Kings Cross. It felt like the most crowded train ever. Then, as we left Kings Cross, at about 8.50am, there was an almighty bang.
Everything went totally black and clouds of choking smoke filled the Tube carriage and I thought I had been blinded.
It was so dark that nobody could see anything.
I thought I was about to die, or was dead. I was choking from the smoke and felt like I was drowning.
Air started to flood in through the smashed glass and the emergency lighting helped us see a bit. We were OK.
A terrible screaming followed the initial silence.
We tried to stop ourselves from panicking by talking to each other and listening to the driver who started talking to us.
There was screaming and groaning but we calmed each other and tried to listen to the driver.
He told us he was going to take the train forward a little so he could get us out, after he had made sure the track wasn't live.
We all passed the message into the darkness behind us, down the train.
After about 10 - 20 minutes we started to leave the train.
We were choking and trying not to panic because we knew that would mean curtains.
We tried to keep each other calm, I remember saying: "If anyone's boss gives them grief for being late, we know what to say to them, eh, girls?"
People laughed and we kept saying, "not long, it's the long walk to freedom, nearly there".
I knew if we panicked we'd trip on the - possibly live - tracks and it would be hopeless.
So we just tried to stay cool, and trust we'd be safe soon.
We'd escaped from the smashed carriage and just had to stay calm and escape from the dark tunnel too.
We walked carefully through the semi-darkness - we didn't know if the tracks were live so we walked between them - the emergency lights were on in the tunnel.
We walked in single file to Russell Square station and after what felt like half an hour we were lifted off the tracks to safety.
Then I was in a lift, euphorically calm, then in the station foyer, surrounded by filthy blackened shocked people and someone was handing me water.
My mouth was so dry. My lungs felt full of choking dirt and I became aware of a bleeding gash full of glass in my wrist and that I could see the bone in my arm, and then I felt sick.
I realised I needed to clean my cut as it was full of grit, and I was bleeding, so I held my arm above my head and breathed in and out hard.
But I also knew I didn't need an ambulance - it was a nasty gash, not a maiming.
I staggered about outside the tube and no-one seemed to know what to do, least of all me.
I called my friend who works in Shaftesbury Avenue and she came in a cab and she took me to University College Hospital.
We asked if anyone wanted to get a lift to the hospital but people seemed too shocked to respond and I started to faint.
I just wanted to get my wound cleaned and stitched and get home.
I was feeling sick and worrying much worse casualties would be coming later.
I was walking wounded, not really badly hurt, and I felt almost bad for having survived and got off so lightly. I knew others behind me were so much worse off than I was.
The hospital staff were so lovely I kept wanting to cry but I knew I needed to stay calm and get home.
I got treated, my cut cleaned of glass and x-rayed.
Hours passed.
I felt even more calm and light-headed as people started to flood into the hospital covered in glass and blood.
The police talked to me and gave me a forensic bag for my clothes.
I felt like I got into the hospital so fast and the emergency services staff weren't quite in the rush hour yet.
I was so very lucky.
The emergency staff were clearly shocked but doing all they could and rose to the occasion so bravely.
I can't thank them enough. They were magnificent.
They kept me in for four hours with shock and they stitched me up but they wouldn't let me go because I had gone deaf and they weren't sure if I had broken my arm.
X-rays proved it was just bashed.
Eventually I got out and met my partner and we walked to Camden as there were no buses or trains and we were desperate to get home.
Seeing his face was wonderful. I started to shake with the relief of being alive.
In the pub I found out there had been many bombs.
I went into shock - I probably still am in shock.
It took another two hours to get home after a friend managed to pick us up in her car.
I am very lucky. I feel euphoric. I'm sure I'll crash soon, but right now, I'm so glad to be alive.


Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

What an ordeal. You must have been so terrified. It is indeed wonderful that you survived.

So terrible how hate makes people hurt others. The London bombings are a catastrophe felt world wide. And what senselessness...

October 11, 2005 12:19 am  
Anonymous Nebojsa KOVACEVIC said...

Dear Rachel
Sorry to post a message that is actally not a comment but I tried to find your email on the site without succes. I hope that you have the comments forwarded to your email adress, I will post one on the first an last post.
I have read your history and I would like to ask you if I you would accept an interview with me. I am a freelance journalist based in Mexico and I ma writing in several newspapers in Latin America. One of the new pess agencies I work with focuses on events told by people that were present.
I started to be interested in politic subjects since the Yugoslavian war because I'm from Serbian Origin and some of the members of my family is involved. I assure you that the article will not be a morbid description of what happened to you but simply your story in your own words.
I hope that you will accept my request and thank you very much for your attention.
my email:

November 23, 2005 10:47 pm  
Blogger Sally Lomax said...

Hi Rachel
I hope that you find this comment! I found you via Ignorminious, and thought that I would have a look at your blog. I wanted to have a look at he beginning, to see how your blog started...

This is a very well told story. You must have been in shock for weeks.

I cannot understand the rationale of your stlker. I can only think that she is either connected with the terrorists or is deranged in some way!

I'm so glad that you survived, are now happily married, and that your stalker is being looked for. I hope thast your second ordeal comes to an end very soon!

May 29, 2007 9:11 am  
Blogger Nia H said...

Came across your blog through NeeNaw, I'd never read an eyewitness account before and it has really made me comprehend the bombings properly even this far on, as I live in Finsbury Park too - I don't think I could even come close to imagining how it must have been before, still don't know if I can.

You write bravely and eloquently, thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading more posts.

March 10, 2008 8:34 pm  
Blogger Amy said...

Hi Rachel.

I've no idea if you will see this as you stopped blogging years ago now. I only just heard about you and KCU reading Jon Ronson's book "The Psychopath Test".

I was on the same train as you but in the very last carriage. I wasn't injured but otherwise my experience was pretty similar to what you described. I've just started reading some of your blog posts and, although I'm a little late, just wanted to say hello and thank you for sharing.


August 09, 2014 7:31 pm  

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