Victims: 'It was the closest thing to death I have ever faced'

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The Independent Online

Bar worker Richard Seaman and his girlfriend walked straight towards the grey Saab. When they were only a few feet away, the bomb exploded, blowing Mr Seaman, 24, and Andrea Carragher, 23, into the air.

"As we got to the HSBC bank there was a huge flash of light, it was very hot. I was walking with my girlfriend, she banged into me and we went on to the floor. We were covered in debris and that carried on for 10 or 15 seconds.

"I got back on to my feet, I did not know what was happening," he said from his hospital bed yesterday.

"I realised my girlfriend had bad injuries to her back and neck. I had some bad injuries, some cracked ribs.

"It is only now that I realise a bomb went off and I was only 12 feet away from it. It was the closest thing to death that I have ever faced," he said.

Nearby hundreds of people were packed in for karaoke night at the Townhouse pub, where last orders had just been called. Tom Ryan, a barman at the pub, remembered looking out the window at the Saab and noticing it was parked on yellow lines, with its lights turned off, when the bomb exploded.

"Some people were screaming. They didn't know what was going on," he said.

Student Jagpreet Sidhu, 22, was just outside the Townhouse on the corner of Uxbridge Road. "I felt a huge shockwave, then literally saw a roll of flame coming towards us. All the shop windows smashed. We ducked and were thrown to the floor," he said.

Danielle Nelson, 19, was just launching into a rendition of Jennifer Rush's "The Power of Love" on the karaoke. "I was looking around, facing the window and looking directly outside when it happened.

"At first I didn't know what was going on. I felt the ground shake. The whole pub shook. It was very loud and scary. I saw a mass of fire and glass going everywhere but even then I thought about carrying on singing. It didn't sink in. It took a couple of minutes before I realised what was happening."

Panic-stricken revellers ran straight towards the site of the explosion. Ringing burglar alarms and floods in the street only added to the confusion.

The vagueness of the bombers' warning to police could have had deadly consequences. Officers had allowed Mr Seaman and Ms Carragher to walk right past the car.

After the explosion the couple staggered off in search of help, and Mr Seaman confronted one of the officers who had let him through moments earlier. "I said to a police officer, 'You knew this was going to happen, why did you not tell us?' He said: 'We could not cordon off the whole town'."