'Lucky' Tube passenger caught in second 7/7 blast
Friday 14 January 2011
A woman who narrowly escaped one of the 7/7 bombings received a text from her boyfriend saying she had been lucky moments before she was caught in a second blast, an inquest heard today.
Louise Barry was on the London Underground at Aldgate when terrorist Shehzad Tanweer detonated a backpack full of homemade explosives on another train that had just left the station.
She was evacuated and ended up on the number 30 bus that was blown up in Tavistock Square by fellow suicide bomber Hasib Hussain.
Australian Ms Barry texted her boyfriend straight after the Aldgate blast to say she believed a bomb had gone off on the Tube.
Moments before the bus exploded, her boyfriend replied: "Actually you were right, they were bombs, lucky you weren't involved."
One of the innocent victims of the bus attack insisted just before the blast that the earlier disruption on the Tube was caused by a power surge, the inquest heard.
While on the bus, Ms Barry used her mobile phone to tell her brother in Australia that she believed bombs were going off in London that day.
She recalled that fellow passenger Sam Ly stood up and turned around to her, saying: "No, I've spoken to my boss at work... He was at that station and it's a power surge."
Minutes later Hussain, 18, set off his device, killing himself and 13 others.
Mr Ly, 28, a Vietnamese-born computer technician from Melbourne, Australia, was severely injured in the blast and died in hospital a week later.
Ms Barry was living in Westbourne Park, west London, and working in marketing in Islington, north London, at the time of the attacks on July 7 2005.
She was standing on a Tube train which was waiting at the platform at Edgware Road when she heard a loud bang like a "lightning strike crack".
After being evacuated, Ms Barry ended up boarding the number 30 bus just before it arrived at Euston station and found a seat at the rear of the lower deck.
The Australian recalled that she and the other passengers discussed what had happened on the Tube and the previous day's news that London had won the 2012 Olympics.
"It became kind of a social atmosphere, very unlike being on any public transport in London," she said via videolink from Australia.
Ms Barry said the explosion on the bus was muffled, like being "deeply underwater", and she at first thought she was having an epileptic fit.
She told the inquest: "I heard these voices: 'Everything's fine, tell her everything's going to be OK, everything's fine'.
"And I think they were the people on the bus that I had been talking to, so I thought they were looking at me having a seizure."
Ms Barry was brought back to reality when she felt boiling water from the bus's radiator dripping on her arm.
Thinking the water was petrol, she feared it could blow up and realised she had to get out.
"I was surrounded by bodies and I crawled through them, through the legs of people - that's what it felt like," she said.
"Then, as I was crawling through, I lost my shoes and my bag ripped off - I had a shoulder bag - and then I staggered up and suddenly it was gone, it was daylight.
"And then I was just standing at the back of the bus and I was looking around. I couldn't scream - I wanted to scream but no voice came out."
Ms Barry needed hospital treatment for wounds to her arm, leg and head, the inquest heard.
Three of the July 7 terrorists detonated bombs in co-ordinated attacks on Tube trains in London at about 8.50am.
The inquest has heard that Hussain's device apparently failed to go off on the Underground as planned and he bought a new battery for it at King's Cross station before blowing up the number 30 bus instead.
Georgina Ford, another of the passengers on the bus, said the devastated vehicle covered in bodies looked like an "Auschwitz truck".
Ms Ford, who in 2005 was living in Finsbury Park, north London, and working as a receptionist in Old Street, central London, was among those evacuated from King's Cross as she travelled to her office on the Tube.
She recalled that commuters crowded on to the bus at Euston station.
"I think the number 30 bus was one of the few buses that had free seats on it, and I think that's why so many people were trying to board it," she said.
Ms Ford remembered the blast in Tavistock Square as a "tinny bang", like a tyre bursting, and said she at first thought they had crashed into another bus.
Trapped in the wreckage, she had to wriggle through mangled bodywork and clamber over bodies to get free.
Describing the scene of devastation, she told the inquest: "It looked like a flatbed truck with bodies on it, a bit like an Auschwitz truck."
No emergency services had arrived by the time Ms Ford emerged from the wrecked bus.
She approached a man in a fluorescent jacket to ask for help, but he turned out to be a builder who simply hugged her before walking off.
Ms Ford said: "There was a passer-by who took a picture of me on their phone. There was another passer-by that just ignored me.
"There were people wandering about very confused. As I was leaving the bus there was a crowd of people gawping at all the bodies inside the bus, which was not to be recommended really."
Fellow passenger Tad Gryglewicz recalled an "almighty explosion" on the number 30 bus.
He told the inquest: "Straightaway it was just like my mind was in overdrive, and I could see that this bus was targeted by terrorists, and I'm just on this very bus."
The Polish-born electrical engineer added: "It was shock and disbelief - in microseconds the bus has changed beyond recognition."
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