London terror blasts "so powerful none of the dead have been identified"- Search for bodies continues - death toll expected to mount
Families and friends frantically search for news of loved ones in aftermath of attacks -fate of missing uncertain
July 9 2005
"...LONDON (AP) - British police issued a stunning revision Saturday, shrinking the time between deadly explosions in the London Underground to just seconds, not 26 minutes as first reported, and saying the blasts were so powerful that none of the 49 known dead has yet been identified.
Many bodies still lay buried in a rat-infested subway tunnel and frantic relatives begged for word about others still missing in the worst attack on London since the Second World War. Police indicated as many as 50 victims were unaccounted for ..." see complete article below
Friends and relatives of people missing in the London bombings searched hospitals in the capital for their loved ones yesterday.
One of them, Yvonne Nash, 30, said she feared that her boyfriend, Jamie Gordon, 30, a banker, was dead after she traced his mobile phone signal to the bus torn apart by a bomb in Tavistock Square.
He called his office, City Asset Management, at 9.42am, five minutes before the blast, to say that his train had been diverted and that he was on a bus.
Miss Nash, who has lived with Mr Gordon for seven years in Enfield, north London, works for a mobile phone company and, shortly after hearing of the bombs, found out where the call had been made. Mr Gordon had been staying the night with friends.
As Miss Nash and friends put up photographs of Mr Gordon, she said: "The worst is that he could be dead. If he is hurt and on his own in hospital, I need to be with him. You cannot sleep, cannot eat when you are that worried about somebody."
A group of Mr Gordon's colleagues visited University College Hospital in their search for news. Rachel Peacock said: "Maybe he is unconscious in hospital and nobody knows who he is."
Anyone with information should contact 0207 984 2000.
Ope Ogunbanjo and other friends of Anthony Fatayi-Williams, 26, believe that he also boarded the No 30 bus after delays on the Northern Line.
"He is usually very conscientous," Amrit Walia said. "He would have called to check that everyone else was OK. His mother keeps on calling me from Lagos asking where he is.
Anyone with information should contact Mr Walia on 07814 029436 or 07793 811222.
David Webb, 38, a teacher from Kingston upon Thames, went to University College Hospital to look for his sister, Laura, 29, accompanied by Laura's boyfriend, Chris Driver. He said he feared she had been caught in the blast at Edgware Road while travelling to work in Paddington.
"I e-mailed her and did not get a reply," Mr Webb said. "Later someone from her company got in touch to say that she had not turned up. We are all so worried."
Gladys Wundowa, 50, a cleaner, from Romford, Essex, was finishing a night shift at University College London close to Tavistock Square when the bus bomb went off.
Mrs Wundowa, who has two children, was expected to go on to Hackney College where she was studying housing management.
But her husband, Emanuel, 52, a security guard, said: "We have not heard anything of her. We desperately want to know where she is."
Magdolena Dondelewska and Anna Sakowicz held up posters appealing for news of their friend and flatmate Monika Suchocka, 23, from Poland. She last made contact while travelling from King's Cross to work in Kensington.
"She called her company at 8.40am and told them she was late and was catching a bus," Miss Dondelewska said. "We have called the police and the Polish embassy but we have had no information."
At the Royal London Hospital, Nazmul Hasan was trying to find his niece, Shahara Islam, 20, a Muslim who was on her way to work at the Co-op Bank in Islington.
"We have been constantly calling her mobile," he said.
"Her mother is completely distraught and her father is desperately trying to keep it together. These people who did this are not Muslim. Islam forbids things like this. They are less than human."
Margaret Power was at the hospital searching for her grandson, Philip Beer, 20, a hairdresser from Boreham Wood, Herts. He was travelling with his sister Stacey on his way to Knightsbridge.
Mrs Power said that Stacey had been evacuated from King's Cross. "She phoned and said she was injured and had cried out for her brother but could not find him anywhere."
Philip Russell, 29, a banker at J P Morgan, is also missing. He was on his way to work in the City from East Peckham, south-east London.
His brother-in-law, John Steadman, 39, a businessman, who travelled to the hospital to try to find him, said he had telephoned his work at 9.30am to say that he had been told to leave the Underground at Euston and was taking a bus to the office.
"The family is fearing the worst," Mr Steadman said. Richard Ellery, 21, sent a text message to his mother at about 8.30am as he travelled by train from his home in Ipswich, where he shares a flat with a friend, to Liverpool Street station.
From there, he had planned to take a Circle Line train to South Kensington where he was to attend a training course.
His father, Richard, said: "We are going to go to Liverpool Street with a photo, as other people are doing, and show it to staff or anyone who might just recognise him."
E Neetu Jain, 37 a Hindu IT manager, has not been heard from since she called her sister to say she had been evacuated from Euston and was planning to catch a bus.
Gous Ali, 32, her Muslim boyfriend, wept as he appealed for information.
"Neetu is a very spiritual, down to earth, very loving person," he said. "Her family are of Indian origin but she is British and she embraces all religions and cultures. I condemn the people who did this in the strongest terms."
Other missing people include Gamze Gunoral, a 24-year-old Turkish student, Slimane Ihab, 19, a French waiter, Michael Matsushita, 37, a tour guide, and 22-year-old Ciaran Cassidy.
Fears grow for missing after blasts
Relatives and friends of people missing since the London bomb blasts are praying to hear from their loved ones.
Some feared the worst having heard nothing of them following the horrific explosions in the centre of the capital.
Posters were going up around the capital and photos handed out in frantic efforts to find out what had happened.
Mothers, fathers, boyfriends and girlfriends were scouring the city, contacting authorities and doing anything they could in the hunt for information.
Among the missing was hair stylist Phil Beer, 22, from Borehamwood, Herts, who was with a friend who was injured in the Tube blast near King's Cross. His sister Stacy, 24, said she and her parents Phil and Kim were feeling "emotionally drained".
Yvonne Nash, 30, feared her boyfriend Jamie Gordon was on the bus ripped apart by a blast in Tavistock Square. Colleagues of Mr Gordon, a 30-year-old City worker, have been searching the streets of London and putting up posters of him.
Meanwhile, family and friends of Laura Webb, 29, from Islington, north London, have been searching for her at various hospitals. Her brother David Webb, 38, from Kingston, south-west London, said: "We are very upset about her disappearance, and all the options go through your mind."
Monika Suchocka, 23, a trainee accountant from Poland who was living in Archway, north London and working in West Kensington, west London, was also feared missing. Her friend, Magdalena Dondelewska, 24, said: "She would normally take the Tube, but we have been told that at 8.40 she rang her company to say she would be late, and was taking a bus, but we just don't know what happened after that."
Nazmul Hasan, 25, was desperately trying to find his niece Shahera Akhter Islam, 20, from Plaistow, east London, saying she was on the Circle line going through Liverpool Street at the time of the blasts.
"Her mother and father have fallen to pieces over this," Mr Hasan said. Mr Hasan, a Muslim, branded the perpetrators of the attacks inhuman.
Families Seek Missing in London Blasts
By WILLIAM J. KOLE
Saturday, July 09, 2005
LONDON (AP) - British police issued a stunning revision Saturday, shrinking the time between deadly explosions in the London Underground to just seconds, not 26 minutes as first reported, and saying the blasts were so powerful that none of the 49 known dead has yet been identified.
Many bodies still lay buried in a rat-infested subway tunnel and frantic relatives begged for word about others still missing in the worst attack on London since the Second World War. Police indicated as many as 50 victims were unaccounted for.
Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, the alleged mastermind of last year's Madrid railway bombings, who also goes by the name Abu Musab al-Suri, a Syrian suspected of being al-Qaida's operations chief in Europe, has emerged as a suspect in the London attacks, according to unidentified investigators cited in the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday.
Nasar, a Syrian fugitive, allegedly played a key role in setting up an al-Qaida structure in Spain and was indicted there in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Last year, Washington offered $5 million US for information leading to his arrest.
In a sign of the continued state of alert, police evacuated 20,000 people from Birmingham's central entertainment district Saturday night after intelligence indicating a "substantial threat," said Stuart Hyde, assistant chief constable of West Midlands Police.
He said the alert was not likely connected to the subway and bus bombings. A controlled explosion to disarm a suspicious object was carried out on a Birmingham bus, and officers concluded there was no explosive device.
In southern England, Eurostar train services, which link Paris and London, were delayed Saturday after a security alert closed the Ashford international station for about an hour. Two pieces of unattended luggage were destroyed in controlled explosions and later found to contain nothing suspicious.
Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Brian Paddick said the near-simultaneous nature of the attacks indicated timers - not suicide bombers - set off the explosions. He cautioned, however, that the investigation was in an early stage and nothing had been ruled out.
Investigators also said the bombs that brought the British capital to a standstill Thursday were made of sophisticated high explosives. While it was possible the explosives were industrial or military materials obtained on the black market, investigators said it was too early to pinpoint where the terrorist bombers got the ingredients.
Investigators declined to say if they were looking for specific suspects, but repeated their assertion that the bombings bore the signature of al-Qaida, the terror network blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks. The organization, headed by Osama bin Laden, has gained a reputation for sophisticated timing in its terror strikes.
"It will be some time before this job is completed and it will be done with all the necessary dignity to the deceased," said Andy Trotter of the British Transport Police.
Transit officials originally said the blasts occurred over a 26-minute span, but computer software that tracked train locations and electric circuits subsequently determined the first blast shattered the rush-hour commute at 8:50 a.m in Aldgate station, east London, with the next two erupting within 50 seconds.
A fourth explosion tore through a double-decker bus near a subway entrance, killing 13 people, nearly an hour later. The attacks hit as Prime Minister Tony Blair and other Group of Eight leaders were holding a summit in Scotland and a day after London was named the host city for the 2012 Olympics.
Sobbing relatives held pictures and searched for missing loved ones at subway stations around the city.
Scotland Yard has declined to issue a list of people unaccounted for. Police said Saturday they were looking into more than 1,000 missing-person reports, although they do not believe more than 50 of them are connected to the bombings, suggesting the death toll will remain below 100.
More than 20 people injured in the blasts remained in critical condition, and an unknown number of bodies remained in the Russell Square subway tunnel, where heat, dust and dangerous conditions slowed crews trying to reach the corpses trapped beneath the wreckage. Many London subway lines run more than 30 metres below ground.
"It is a very harrowing task," said Det. Jim Dickie. "Most of the victims have suffered intensive trauma, and by that I mean there are body parts as well as torsos." Many of those who worked to recover bodies had done the same work during December's devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
Forensics experts were relying on fingerprints, dental records and DNA analysis to identify the victims. To help with DNA matches, police were asking for hair samples from those believed to be family members of some victims.
Riders were returning to Underground stations, but warily and in smaller numbers.
"There's just less people," student William Palmer, 23, said at the Chancery Lane subway stop. "Everyone's looking around a little bit more."
The system was set for its first real test Sunday when 20,000 cricket fans were expected to travel to the British capital for a match between England and Australia.
When asked about the claim of responsibility by a group calling itself the Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe, Blair told the British Broadcasting Corp. on Saturday it was "reasonably obvious that it comes from that type of quarter."
Little was known about the group, but its name was attached to an Internet statement that claimed responsibility for the Madrid commuter train bombings that killed 191 people in March 2004, the last major terror attack in Europe.
A second claim appeared on a website Saturday, this one signed Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, a group whose name invokes the alias of Mohammed Atef, bin Laden's top deputy who was killed in a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan in November 2001.
But terrorism experts said the group had no proven record of attacks, and noted it had claimed responsibility for events in which it was unlikely to have played any role - the 2003 blackouts in the United States and London that resulted from technical problems, for example.
At King's Cross station, near the site of the deadliest of the three subway bombings, service was partially restored Saturday. Flowers and sympathy cards were piling up outside to honour the 21 known dead as the train was bombed between King's Cross and Russell Square stations.
A group of Muslims held a peaceful vigil outside St. Mary's Hospital on Saturday in solidarity with victims. About 20 people left bouquets for five patients being treated at the hospital, just metres away from the Edgeware Road subway station where one of the bombs exploded.
"We must remember that terror is all around us these days, that terror has no homeland or nationality and no religion and that we all face the same problems together," said Iman Hassan Ali, from the Dar Al Islam Foundation.
"We all want to understand these incidents and today we are here to give our support to the victims and say that we will stand together despite terrorism."