The Human Cost: The woman in the mask, whose suffering touched us all, is safe

The family of Davinia, the woman whose image has come to symbolise London's agony, said yesterday she was recovering in hospital. On these pages we reveal the extraordinary stories of courage and anguish that continue to emerge, three days later
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The Independent Online

No one knew whether the woman - known only as Davinia - was safe, least of all the man who had been photographed comforting her on Thursday. But Davinia's family revealed last night that she was stable in hospital and resting quietly.

They thanked the doctors and nurses who are treating her in the burns unit at a London hospital, and all those who helped her following the explosion - including 28-year-old Paul Dadge, a former firefighter, who looked after her.

In a statementreleased last night, the family said: "We would like to thank everyone for the concern that they have shown for Davinia and thank all those who helped both Davinia and ourselves through this time of crisis. We would like to give particular thanks to all the emergency services, and the people that work for them, for their assistance and support following Thursday's tragedy."

Davinia's surname was not released, nor was the name of the hospital where she is recovering. The photograph of Davinia with Mr Dadge's arms wrapped around her was published around the world on newspaper front pages from India to the United States, including several British newspapers. It was used on all the major television news bulletins and swiftly became one of the disaster's most symbolic images.

Mr Dadge, an internet project manager, was travelling to work on a Hammersmith-bound tube from King's Cross when his train was evacuated at Baker Street station. He decided to walk to work in Paddington, but only got as far as the carnage at Edgware Road. The street teemed with dazed survivors, many with serious injuries.

Mr Dadge, who spent a year in the Berkshire Fire Service based at Wokingham, said the injured were being moved to the nearby Metropole Hotel and he administered basic first aid to about half a dozen people. He spotted Davinia standing on a corner, alone.

"She was really brave," he said. "A lot of people were complaining about their burns but she didn't.

"Davinia had serious burns to the right side of her face and left leg and her tights had been badly burned. She had lacerations to her head, and we managed to find a gel pack for her face.

"I helped her across the road to a hotel where they had set up a casualty centre. I spoke to her very briefly, we didn't have much time. I applied some dressings to her burns before she was taken off to hospital and I told her good luck."

Davinia's family last night thanked well-wishers but asked that she be left alone and allowed the rest she needs to fully recover. "It has meant a lot to Davinia that we can take solace in all the support and encouragement that has been offered," they said.

Mr Dadge, who lives in Cannock in Staffordshire, said he believed Davinia was 28 years old with a foreign surname and that she had an English boyfriend.

"I would love to get in touch with her," he said. Mr Dadge used his basic medical training to apply surgical masks to the badly burnt, like that used on Davinia.

"I was trained in first aid when I was in the fire service but to be honest I think it was instinct more than training that took over.

"The atmosphere was extremely calm considering the frustrating lack of medical resources around. I could only see two medics and one ambulance officer. I grabbed the surgical gloves out of the medical bag that was lying there and just started helping.

"I had been in the fire service for about a year but I've never seen anything quite as bad as Thursday," he said.


Shahla Ahmed

Shahla Ahmed, a registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at St Mary's hospital, Paddington was on duty in the labour ward on Thursday morning when the explosions happened.

"I got a 'bleep' at around nine o'clock that said there was a major incident and we should get down to the casualty department," Dr Ahmed said. "I wandered down not really knowing what was going on. By the time we got there we had heard there were bombs on the Underground.

"A lady in her thirties was brought in by an ambulance crew. She had been on the train coming into Edgware station. She was with a man who had been on a different train but had come across to help. They had never met before but he stayed with her throughout her stay in casualty. It was fantastic.

"She had fractured her leg, a fracture round her face, and face lacerations. She was in quite a lot of pain but it was not a life threatening situation."

Dr Ahmed said she was impressed by the efficiency of the hospital in dealing with the disaster. "It was so efficient. The hospital ran incredibly well."


Hilary Collyer

A mother of four, Hilary Collyer had been delayed leaving her home in Tippenham, Norfolk, and caught a later train than usual. Her delay could have been catastrophic. Mrs Collyer, who is in her forties, was in the carriage containing the bomb that went off at Aldgate station.

She was knocked out by the blast and suffered cuts to her eyes and ears from the flying metal and glass, but has been told she will recover from her injuries.

Her sister, Gabrielle Crick, visiting Mrs Collyer at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, East London said: "She was concussed so she missed the hysteria. She had a lot of cuts - her eyes and ears are perforated. They had to operate to take out the metal and glass. Luckily she did not have her glasses on because otherwise she would have been blinded.

"She has got internal bleeding and blood on her brain. She's in shock, but she is just so feisty. She is one of the lucky ones. Out of her carriage she is alive and most of the other people died."


Laura Nuttall

As the train at King's Cross skidded off the tracks after the blast, Laura Nuttall thought: "I can't believe this is happening to me again."

Ms Nuttall, who works for a jewellery company, had survived the Southall train disaster in 1997, which killed seven and injured 150. She said yesterday that she was convinced she was going to die: "We had just pulled out of King's Cross when there was a huge explosion. I saw a big flash of white light. We were all jammed in the carriage and I was squashed against the door. The carriage filled up with smoke and people were screaming and shouting. One woman was just screaming and screaming in the next carriage. People started to pray."

Passengers tried to break the windows before transport police arrived to free them. Ms Nuttall's hair was singed and covered in soot, but she escaped without injury.


Benedetta Ciaccia

Italian-born Benedetta Ciaccia, 30, left home in Norwich early on Thursday morning. She stepped off the train in Liverpool Street during the rush hour, on her way to the offices of the publishing firm she works for in Charing Cross. No one has heard from her since.

Her fiancé, Fiaz Bhatti, 29, rang her mobile phone when he heard about the blasts but failed to get through. He jumped in his car and drove down to London to begin a frantic search of the hospitals. That search was continuing yesterday, while Mr Bhatti's family, who run a corner shop, waited in Norwich for news.

His sister, Shabina, 27, said yesterday: "At first Benedetta's mobile phone was taking messages but it is now switched off. My brother has been to hospitals and shown her photo to staff and the police and her description is with the authorities.

"But so far we have had no news at all - no one has contacted us to say if she is dead or alive. We are just hoping that she is being treated in a hospital and hasn't got any ID with her."

Ms Ciaccia and Mr Bhatti were due to marry in September.


John Falding

John Falding was on the phone to his girlfriend, Anat Rosenberg, on Thursday morning as she travelled on the bus to work. Suddenly he heard screaming and the line went dead.

"She called me from Euston to say she couldn't get on a bus," said Mr Falding. "I said, 'Look, walk back to the next stop and jump the queue' and she did that and she called me and she was happy. She said, 'Oh, I managed to get a seat and it's going to get me to Highbury and it has been diverted.'

"A few minutes later she called me again. At that moment I heard in the distance horrendous screams and her phone went dead.

"I was watching the news at the time and realised there had been a blast. I phoned her back and went to voice mail. I left one saying, 'Get off the bus, get off the bus.'"

Miss Rosenberg is Israeli, and bus bombings had made her scared of returning to Israel. Mr Falding said she was very security conscious. "If she ever saw a package that was unattended, she'd go absolutely wild," he said.


Tadeuz Gryglewiecz

Tadeuz Gryglewiecz, 52, from Cricklewood, had been sitting at the back of the number 30 bus but moved to a seat in the middle. It saved his life.

A civil engineer originally from Poland, Mr Gryglewiecz underwent surgery to his arm where he had been hit by flying debris and required 20 stitches to his head after suffering a deep cut.

A friend, Harriette Spierings, 44, from Tooting, said: "He managed to get off the bus himself. The adrenalin was going and he never lost consciousness. He was covered in blood and he had no idea where the blood was coming from or if he was bleeding."

Ms Spierings spoke to Mr Gryglewiecz on the telephone to find out if he was all right. "I thought he might have been on the Tube but he said no he wasn't on the Tube he was on a bus. I said 'Oh good' and he said 'What do you mean 'good'? I was on that bus.' "


Ed Gomman

At University College Hospital, staff nurse Ed Gomman said everything was beginning to return to normal following Thursday's attacks.

"The whole co-ordination of the emergency services was very impressive," he said. "The way people reacted and the spirit of people in London was very good. In the hospital it was really very calm, there were no chaotic scenes. Today everything is back to normal."

Mr Gomman, 26, said the blast victims still in hospital were recovering well and were in good spirits.

"Everyone is dealing with it really well as far as I have seen. They are laughing and joking and commenting on how well they are being treated."

He said the patients had not spoken much about their ordeal. "I imagine they are just taking it all in, which is normal at this stage. I am not really encouraging them to talk about it, if they want to we will listen but they will probably want to talk about it with their friends and families."