Lack of space 'saved 7/7 survivor's life'

Click to follow

A 7/7 survivor told today how she escaped sitting next to one of the bombers because there was not enough room for her laptop bag and his explosives-filled backpack.

Another commuter spoke of seeing teenage terrorist Hasib Hussain looking nervous and with sweat dripping down his face as he boarded a bus after his fellow suicide bombers detonated their devices on Tube trains.

Hussain, 18, killed 13 innocent people when he blew himself up on a number 30 bus in London's Tavistock Square on July 7 2005.

The inquest for the 52 victims of the attacks has heard that his backpack bomb apparently failed to go off on the Underground as planned.

Hussain emerged from the Tube at King's Cross station and initially boarded a number 91 bus.

Passenger Anita Dybek-Echtermeyer was struck by his "bad manners", recalling that he blocked the way and knocked other travellers with his large bag.

Describing the backpack, she said: "It looked very heavy and very properly packed - full, I think around 60 litres.

"It had to be heavy because he had a strap on to carry the whole thing.

"Also, he himself looked very exhausted and he was sweating on his chin, and that was horrible to look at."

Paul Rekret, another passenger on the number 91 bus, recalled that a woman in her 20s tapped the bomber on the shoulder and asked him to be careful but he made no reaction.

He told the inquest: "At the time I thought he was a lost and anxious tourist, and perhaps a foreigner."

Disruption caused by the earlier blasts on the Tube meant that the bus terminated early at Euston station and everyone had to get off.

Hussain then boarded the number 30 bus and, after finding a seat at the rear of the upper deck, blew himself up in nearby Tavistock Square at 9.47am.

Lisa French got on the bus at the same time as the bomber and followed him upstairs but sat down four rows in front of him because there was not enough space for her large laptop bag.

"I made the decision not to go and sit next to him because I was aware we both had very big bags and that he, we, you know, would be taking up a lot of room," she told the inquest.

She could not remember the blast but recalled waking up to find a gaping void behind her where the vehicle had been blown apart.

"There were no seats left behind me attached to the bus. There was literally no bus left. It just dropped down behind our seats," she said.

Ms French, who in 2005 was a BT employee living in Newcastle upon Tyne, travelled to London on the morning of July 7 to attend a business meeting.

She broke down as she described how a police officer stopped her going to help the people lying in the wreckage of the bus.

She said: "He knew what I wanted to try to do. And he just shook his head at me and the look in his eyes, and he just guided me off the bus and I just knew then there was no hope for any of them."

Ms French, who escaped the atrocity with perforated ear drums, broken teeth, cuts and bruises, described herself as "very lucky".

Another commuter on the number 30 bus got off in Tavistock Square moments before Hussain detonated his device after becoming concerned about a fellow passenger's behaviour.

Richard Jones said he was annoyed by a tall man of "Mediterranean appearance" who kept bumping into him as he repeatedly reached down and rummaged in a bag between his legs.

There were initial suspicions that this man could be the bomber, but they proved unfounded.

Eyewitnesses described the dramatic sight of the bus exploding on a busy road in broad daylight.

Mr Rekret told the inquest: "The way I recall it is pieces of the roof of the bus floating down to the ground as a piece of paper would, some of which landed right at my feet, and the bus shaking and people sat on the top deck of the bus as if they were in a convertible."

He recalled that the blast was followed by a moment's shocked silence.

Then one onlooker shouted, "it might go again, it might go again", and those in the square rushed to flee the scene in a panic.

The inquest also heard moving statements from the families of those killed in the Tavistock Square attack.

The mother of oil executive Anthony Fatayi-Williams, 26, questioned why her son died in a "preventable attack".

And Mandy Ha, the girlfriend of murdered computer technician Sam Ly, 28, said simply: "If it's possible to be taught how to love wholeheartedly and unselfishly, Sam was my teacher."

The attacks launched on July 7 2005 by Hussain, Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, and Jermaine Lindsay, 19, were the worst single terrorist atrocity on British soil.

As well as killing themselves and 52 others, the bombers injured more than 700 people.

The inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, which is expected to last until March, was adjourned until Friday.