7/7 bodies retrieval delayed by problems

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The Independent Online

A policeman in charge of the 7/7 blast site at Edgware Road today outlined a series of problems that delayed the retrieval of bodies.

Six innocent travellers were murdered on the Circle line's westbound train when terrorist Mohammed Sidique Khan detonated a rucksack full of homemade explosives.

Today, the forensic scene examiner in charge of searching the Tube's wreckage recalled the difficulties he and his team faced.

Detective Constable Malcolm Wilson, of New Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, entered the tunnel nearly three hours after the explosion at 11.45am when police completed a search for a secondary device.

Safety of the emergency crews working in the tunnel was key.

Mr Wilson was forced to get a structural engineer's views after London Underground said they were worried about two iron beams traversing the old tunnel's roof.

It took "considerable hours" to get the equipment inside the tunnel to begin the task, the inquest into the 52 victims' deaths heard today.

One of the first decisions taken was to remove the body of Jennifer Nicholson, of Reading, Berkshire, from the tracks, said Mr Wilson.

The 24-year-old's body was covered to preserve her dignity.

But then tests needed to be carried out to check for asbestos inside the tunnel and whether it was safe to work inside it.

To compound the situation, the station was evacuated because of a possible gas leak.

Work was delayed further because a doctor - who arrived shortly before midnight - had to formally pronounce the victims dead.

The scene was then closed at 2.30am on July 8 and the remaining victims' bodies were removed the next day, July 9.