The Brixton Bomb: `Everyone panicked, kids cried'

ON A Saturday afternoon you'd be hard-pressed to find a street more teeming with life than Electric Avenue, Brixton. The busy south London road - immortalised in song by Eddy Grant - is usually packed with shoppers. The nearby market is thronged with people looking for bargains. Tourists attracted to the area for its musical reputation come and go at the nearby Tube station. Yesterday was just such a Saturday, and up the road, the live music venue the Brixton Academy was preparing for a gig by dance music star FatBoy Slim, and a Saturday-night crowd of 4,000.

But this was not a normal Saturday afternoon. Unnoticed by traders or shoppers, someone had slipped a blue holdall between the market stalls. Despite the hundreds of alarms over the years and the dozens of bombs - the capital city, after all, has had its fair share of explosions - it was eventually spotted by people whose first reaction was merely to wonder what it contained and who might have left it there.

At 5.25pm they found out. Someone bent on destruction. Inside the holdall was a lethal explosive device packed with nails. Passers-by, including young children, were hit by the nails. One became embedded in a baby's cheek; another in a boy's foot. A man was hit in the chest, with the nail entering a lung. People were flung to the floor, some badly injured, others in shock. Buildings shook, windows were blown out by the blast, and glass lay scattered among the wounded. In the first few seconds after the explosion, there was silence. Then came another huge bang. People started to panic, thinking another explosion had occurred. This time it was thunder. As people began running to and fro in fear, sleet began pouring down.

Amy Mangion had come into Brixton to go shopping. The 32- year-old Channel 5 worker had crossed the road two minutes before the blast and was waiting at a cashpoint machine 200 yards from the Tube station. She heard an explosion and ducked.

"People came running towards me. Then there was just loads of smoke which looked like it was coming from the Tube station. Everybody was panicking and kids were crying. My boyfriend ran down to see what was happening. All he saw was one guy lying on the street. He couldn't see what his injuries were, but he was moving. He was next to a car which had had its windows blown out. Another guy was sitting up and was being nursed."

Jools Thomas was walking back to his flat when he heard the explosion. "It was quite horrifying. There was a flash and then this sonic boom which vibrated everything and then the smoke started billowing out from near the market."

On Brixton Road, Metin Saglam, 34, was busy running her fast-food shop when she heard two bangs. Then came the sound of people screaming "Bomb, bomb, bomb".

"There was a man lying on the floor. I saw this body and a police officer told me there could be two or three more devices, so I left."

Andrew Scott-Bolton, 35, lives 25 yards from the site of the explosion on Electric Avenue. All his windows were blown out. His brother was in Atlantic Avenue, the next road down in his car. "He felt the air suck out and saw a shower of sparks and flame."

Within minutes, the emergency services arrived. Police cordoned off the area, traffic was stopped and passengers were herded off buses. Shops were cleared, and residents of nearby flats were evacuated. There were fears of another device and the police aimed to get people as quickly as possible. Sniffer-dogs and bomb experts searched the area.

Dozens of people, some walking wounded, others very severely injured, began arriving at nearby hospitals, including King's College, and St Thomas's, which had put their major incident plans into action. As staff tended the injured and explained the treatments, there was one question that nobody could answer: who would want to bomb Electric Avenue?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own