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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Recruitment Genius: Accounting Technician

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Website Digital Marketing Manager - Fashion / Retail

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen