Ealing Broadway reopens four days after bomb

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The Independent Online

Ealing Broadway in west London reopened on Tuesday, four days after a car bomb devastated its centre.

The exclusion zone which police imposed while they hunted for clues to the identity of the bombers, and structural engineers assessed safety, was lifted to reveal the extent of the damage within.

Only the immediate vicinity of the blast, marked by a 10ft square, 4ft deep crater, was still closed to the public, though shopkeepers were allowed in to view the destruction and begin the task of cleaning up.

Thursday night's bomb, contained in a grey Saab car, exploded outside Bashir Mohammed's clothes shop, Pie4. Mr Mohammed, 51, estimated the bill for repairs, replacing damaged stock and lost business could be as high as £250,000. It may be four months before he reopens his shop – though, amazingly, his goldfish, Lucky, was found alive amid the wreckage, its tank unscathed by the blast.

Mr Mohammed said: "Our stock – from designers like Armani and Versace – is made to order so we will not be able to replace it until January or February. I think the stock alone was worth £150,000 but I don't know what the total will be once we have done the repairs and everything.

"We are one of a few independent shops in the street but luckily I think we did have terrorist insurance so, hopefully, that will cover most of it."

Two shopping centres, along with many other business premises, reopened for business yesterday and most local residents have now been allowed to go back to their homes. Some people, however, needed counselling to deal with the trauma. Peter Fennelly, landlord of the North Star pub, said he had suffered nightmares since the explosion.

Felice Fiamingo, co-owner of Gino's Italian restaurant, appeared deeply shaken by a bomb within feet of his premises. "It makes me sick," said Mr Fiamingo."You do honest work then this comes along and it ruins your business. We have nothing to do with all this. We are just hard-working people and all of a sudden this happens."

His partner, Franco Marago, had just closed for the night when the bomb went off. "I was just driving home and there was this bang," he said. "My whole car vibrated. I just froze. It was like it was raining glass."

John Birch, Ealing Council's director of environment, said "significant progress" had been made on repairs and water, electricity and gas supplies were slowly being restored. Businesses have been told they will be given automatic relief from council rates and councillors are seeking a meeting with government ministers about possible compensation.

Scotland Yard said police has received a number of calls from the public in response to CCTV footage believed to show the bomber leaving the scene.

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