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London tube blast Highlights: UK PM May asks Trump not to ‘speculate’, suspect identified

Britain was hit by a terrorist attack Friday, when a crude device exploded on a crowded London Underground train, injuring commuters, sowing panic, disrupting service and drawing a heavy response from armed police officers and emergency workers.

world Updated: Sep 15, 2017 21:35 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
In this aerial image made from video, police officers work at the Parsons Green Underground station after an explosion in London on Friday.
In this aerial image made from video, police officers work at the Parsons Green Underground station after an explosion in London on Friday.(AP)

British police said on Friday they were treating as a “terrorist incident” reports of a blast at a west London metro station. Armed police rushed to reports of a fire on a train at a London underground station with local media reporting there had been an explosion on a packed rush-hour commuter train.

The explosion, on a District Line Tube in the British capital’s southwest, occurred as the train pulled into Parsons Green station. Commuters said they heard a bang and saw a fireball inside the carriage when the “bucket bomb” exploded. Soon after, authorities launched a massive manhunt. Here are the highlights of the day.

Map of London locating the Parsons Green underground station. (AFP)

8:25pm: Hundreds of British police have embarked on a massive manhunt, racing to find out who placed a homemade bomb on the packed London subway train during the morning rush hour, the Associated Press reported.

7:51pm: British security services have identified a suspect involved in the bombing of a busy commuter train in west London with the help of surveillance footage, Sky News reported, citing security sources.

7:50pm: US President Donald Trump said he intends to call his British counterpart after a bomb attack in London and a US response that has again strained the so-called “special relationship.”

“I am going to call the Prime Minister” Trump said, as his tweets about a botched London train bombing prompted British Prime Minister Theresa May warn him not to “speculate.”

7:40pm: “The threat level remains at severe. That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely. But this will be kept under review as the investigation progresses,” The Guardian quotes British PM Theresa May as saying.

7.19pm: UK PM Theresa May tells US President Donald Trump not to ‘speculate’ on London train attack, reports AFP.

6.59pm: Germany stands united with Britain in the fight against terrorism, says Chancellor Angela Merkel.

6.55pm: Louis Hather, 21, a programmer who hurt her leg in the scramble to escape the train, told The Guardian: “I was facing away from the bomb when suddenly I heard screams...I immediately thought: ‘there’s been a terror attack’. There was something about the urgency in the way people were trying to get away that made me think that. It was sheer panic.”

6.52pm: The Guardian reports: One possibility is that the detonator did not set off the main charge, causing the flash and the heat which inflicted burns on casualties but not a powerful blast which would have been much more destructive.

6.35pm: No service on High Street Kensington - Edgware Road, says a message posted on the official Twitter feed of London’s District line.

6.34pm: Supermarket Lidl offers to help police after one of its bags was apparently used to hold the improvised bomb: The Guardian says, quoting PA reports. “We are shocked and concerned to have learned of an incident at Parsons Green this morning and our thoughts are with those affected,” Lidl UK, the German-owned grocery chain said.

6.25pm: Investigators recover what appears to be a circuit board from the scene where the device was placed. It is being examined for clues, reports The Guardian.

6.15pm: BBC says security threat level could be raised from severe to critical if intelligences services conclude that the suspect bomber is still on the loose.

6.05pm: World leaders react:

Sri Lanka prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe: My thoughts are with the injured and first responders at the site of the London tube explosion. We will stand with the UK against terrorism

Former UK prime minister David Cameron: My thoughts with all those affected by the appalling terrorist incident at Parsons Green. Thank you to emergency services for swift response.

5.54pm: London Fire Brigade says more than 250 people were evacuated from London Underground train.

5.40pm: No arrests made so far, Scotland Yard confirms: The Guardian.

5.26pm: London mayor Sadiq Khan tells LBC radio: “There is a manhunt underway as we speak.”

5.20pm: UK home secretary Amber Rudd condemns attack, tells The Guardian “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.”

5.09pm: The Guardian says detectives are examining CCTV from the London underground network to determine whose is behind the attack.

5.07pm: British transport police says services remain affected on District line following the Parsons Green incident.

5.05pm: “They will see over the course of today and the next few days an enhanced police presence, not simply on the public transport network but also across London,” London mayor Sadiq Khan tells LBC Radio.

5.04pm: London health service says 22 people injured in London terror attack.

4.51pm: South African Gillian Wixley, 36, who was eight seats from the explosion, told The Guardian: “I first heard a loud bang, followed by smoke and fire rising upwards...It was chaotic.”

4.50pm: Parsons Green explosion: 22 people injured, reports AFP quoting health service

4.49pm: Device used in explosion had a timer: BBC

4.45pm: Stephen Cowan, leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, has described the attack as “disgusting”

4.30pm: Rory Rigney, one of the last to board the train, told The Guardian the explosion happened only a few feet away. “...I saw the fireball coming towards me - yellow or orange. My face still feels warm.”

4.19pm: US President Donald trump tweets: “Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner.The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”

4.18pm: Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said it “most” of the 18 injured and taken to hospital are suffering from “flash burns”.

4.15pm:

4.10pm: Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley says a suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is thought to be responsible for the blast.

4.05pm: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says he is praying for those caught up in the incident.

4.03pm: Commuter Aaron Butterfield, who was trying to get into the station, told BBC: “People weren’t even running, they were literally crawling over one another and just fleeing I guess... It’s been really frightening and very confusing especially as no-one really knows what’s going on.”

3.54pm: London Ambulance Service says 18 people hospitalised in subway attack, none with serious or life-threatening injuries.

3.52pm: The device did not fully detonate, Sky News cites unnamed sources as saying.

3.43pm: “If you see anything suspicious just ACT, contact police,” says UK terrorism police.

3.40pm: Footage filmed from the platform through the train door as people were evacuated shows flames licking from the bucket, which is inside a plastic shopping bag. “That bag’s on fire,” a woman exclaims, before a London Underground staff member orders commuters to get away from the carriage to the end of the platform.

3.38pm: Chris Wildish says he saw “a massive flash of flames” that reached up to the ceiling of the train and then the air was filled with the smell of chemicals. Wildish told Sky News that many of the passengers were schoolchildren, who were knocked around by people trying to get away from the fire.

3.35pm: This is the fifth terrorism incident of 2017 in the UK, according to the BBC. This attack is the only one this year in which nobody has died. Thirty-six people were killed in the four previous attacks.

3.30pm: Britain’s official threat level from terrorism stands at “severe,” the second-highest rung on a five-point scale, meaning an attack is highly likely.

3.22pm: Second unexploded device identified at the site and is now being tackled, TV reports quote a spokesperson of the London Metropolitan Police as saying.

3.20pm: A man injured in the Parsons Green tube explosion describes the incident:

3.14pm: London mayor Sadiq Khan’s statement on his Facebook page:

The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that the explosion on a train at Parsons Green Station this morning is being treated as terrorism.

Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life.

3.14pm: Police say it’s “too early to confirm the cause of the fire, which will be subject to the investigation that is now underway by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.”

3.12pm: British PM Theresa May says “thoughts are with those injured at parsons green and the emergency services who, once again, are responding swiftly and bravely to a suspected terrorist incident”. May says will chair a meeting of national security committee later on Friday after incident at west London tube station

2.48pm: London train incident being treated as ‘terrorism’, say police.

2.06pm: Eye witness at west London’s Parsons Green tube station says was on train when he heard a whoosh and saw next door carriage engulfed in flames

1.48pm: UK police say they are investigating reports of blast on London underground train

1.37pm: Witness says injured in stampede at London’s Parsons Green Underground station: Reuters reporter

1.26pm: No service between Earls Court and Wimbledon on London Underground District line: Transport for London on Twitter

1.18pm: UK’s Sun newspaper says reports of an explosion on London underground train in west London