Saturday, July 09, 2005

words from the tunnel

This wasn't written by me.
It was written by a survivor of the Picadilly line bombing.
It was posted on the urban 75 bulletin boards
That is a very public forum which anyone is free to join,
so I have posted the story here.
I personally am still waiting to hear from my best friend and
his wife who were travelling to the united states on thursday.
(Update: I got an email, they're fine)

here is the post

"I was on a crowded train to work - it was 8.40am when I boarded the rammed Picadilly 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 to board.

I was on the first carriage, the one behind the drivers' carriage , by the doors; it was absolutely packed, and even more people got on at Kings X making it what felt like the most crowded train ever. Then as we left Kings X, about 5 to 9, there was an almighty bang and everything went totally black.

Then 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, then I realised I was choking, the smoke was like being underwater, but gradually I could see, a little, as the emergency lights in the tunnel kicked in. The glass was smashed so air started to flood in, we were ok.

There was silence for 10 secs. Then a terrible screaming.
We all tried not to panic, we said to each other 'ok, stay cool, stand up if you aren't injured, hold hands, don't cry, stand up, hold on, we'll get out , the driver is trying to talk to us'

Some people screamed, some groaned, but we kept saying, 'shh, we'll get out, stay cool, the driver is talking to us, let's listen to him'.

The driver said 'I've got to go forward a bit, then I can let you out, but first I need to make sure the track isn't live', so we all shouted the message back into the darkness. It got passed down the train into the darkness. Then after about 20 - 30 minutes we started to leave the train.

It was choking on there so we were trying not to panic because we knew that would be 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?' and people laughed. 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 things would be hopeless. So we just tried to stay cool, and trust we'd be safe soon. We'd escaped from the smashed carriage, we 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, and I was in a lift, euphorically calm, then in the station foyer, surrounded by filthy blackened shocked people, someone handing me water.

My mouth was so dry. My lungs were full of choking dirt, it felt. I was aware then of a huge bleeding gash full of glass in my wrist and that I could see the bone in my arm, and I then felt sick. I realised I needed to clean it, 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. So I staggered about for a bit, outside the tube, and no-one seemed to know what to do, least of all me, then I called my friend who worked in Shaftesbury Avenue and she came in a cab and she took me to the hospital ( UCL).

We shouted, 'does anyone want 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.

In casualties 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 - people started to flood into A&E at UCL covered in glass and blood.

The police talked to me and gave me a forensic bag for my clothes. I felt like I was out so fast and into hospital so fast the emergency services staff hadn't quite got geared up into 101 mode yet. I was so very lucky. The emergency staff were clearly shocked, yet doing all they could and rose to the occasion so bravely. I can't thank them enough. They were magnificent.

Anyway. They kept me in for 4 hours with shock, they stitched me up, then they wouldn't let me go, cos 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 walked to Camden ( no buses/trains, 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 that there had been many bombs.I went into shock. I probably still am in shock. It took another 2 hours to get home; a friend eventually 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."

3 comments:

RuKsaK said...

I'm happy, of course, that you are well. It sounds like you handled it well and the people of London should be proud of how they are already recovering.

Thank you for sharing your experience so soon after also - bless you.

dweller said...

Thanks, it wasn't me that wrote this, but the sentiments still apply to she who wrote these words that so vividly describe what it was like for survivors. I have edited the post to more clearly define authorship.

SeizeTheNite said...

Wow that was incredible.
Still it was hard to read knowing it actually happened.
I hope you hear from your friend and his wife soon, I know it must be awful to just have to wait and wonder.