Witnesses tell of trapped and injured people

WILL BENNETT

JOHN MCKIE

CHARLES ARTHUR

Eyewitnesses last night described the effect of the blast, which occurred at 7pm in the car park beneath the South Quay shopping plaza in London's Docklands.

"When the explosion went off the entire building rocked and shelves fell off the walls, said Graham Pain, a customer services manager. People looked at each other and knew exactly what had happened. I saw people with severe facial injuries, and people banging on the windows, clearly trapped and desperate to get out.''

James Brucher, an American engineer who works on the Docklands Light Railway, was in the adjacent building. "When the bomb went off everything from the ceiling fell down. The blast lifted me from my chair and the ceiling literally rocked. About an hour before, a friend of mine had tried to leave the office. He was told that the trains were not running and the roads were closed because the police had received a codeword."

Steve Holmes, 41, is the landlord of the Tradewinds pub, next to South Quay station. "All the roads were cut off but no police came in to tell us that the people would have to go out. They never said a word to us. As far as we knew they had a major gas leak and were evacuating Canary Wharf at the same time. No one in our pub was injured, thank God. But I evacuated it very quickly. I remembered that there was one guy in the toilets and had to go in and rescue him. The ceiling caved in straight away and all our windows are shattered."

Terry Walker, who works for the Docklands Digest magazine in the Plaza building, said: "The whole of the front of three South Quay buildings are out. The station is wrecked and the building diagonally across the road is badly damaged."

Mark Sutton, a bodyguard, said: "It was unbelievable, it blew the car from side to side. It blew all the windows of buildings on Westferry Road right open. I have heard some bombs in my time but that was bigger than most.''

John Price, 35, is an architect. "Both the sliding doors of the building where I work were blown off. I have never experienced anything like it.''

Kevin Grant, a security guard, was opposite the station. "I was told by the police to evacuate immediately. I was on the fourth floor when I was thrown back and injured my shoulder."

Alpay Suleyman, 34, was at his flat in Poplar when the bomb went off. "I saw a light which I thought was a flash of thunder and seven seconds later - I counted - there was a big explosion and I saw a big mushroom of thick smoke."

Richard Tanzi, who runs a sandwich shop in the Plaza, said: "I was home in West Norwood when I heard there had been a bomb. I came here because I'm worried that my father Gianni may have gone back to the shop to cash up. But the police won't tell me anything."

Rita Bensley, 59, chair of the Association of Island Communities, was in her living room nearby. "I was just sitting in my living room watching my TV with a friend and this deafening bang shook us out of our seats," she said. "We just grabbed each other for protection. It was just like in the war. After the explosion people were running around everywhere. People here at the moment feel if they could find the bombers they would kill them."

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