July 7, 2005
by Brooke Hart
Authorities in Britain are still counting the dead and wounded after apparently coordinated explosions rocked the London subway. Early reports say at least forty people are dead. More than three hundred people taken to hospitals.
President Bush and other world leaders reacted from the G-8 summit in Scotland.
There has been action in Washington in response: The Department of Homeland Security has raised the terror alert level on rail and subway systems in U.S. cities, wary of the possibility a threat extends beyond London.
At least four explosions in London happened almost simultaneously in the morning rush, three on the city's subway lines. A fourth blast on a double-decker bus popped off the roof of the packed bus like a cork. It knocked nearby pedestrians off their feet.
Subway passengers using cell phone cameras showed the first moments after the blast. They described a scene of horror. "I was in the front carriage and people were severely injured there- but I've heard and i don't know if its right that people were even worse further back."
Some said it took half an hour for help to arrive. "We have treated forty five patients with serious or critical injuries," said an EMT.
Backed by President Bush and other leaders at the G-8 summit, Britain’s Tony Blair called the blasts barbaric acts of terrorism. "Not an attack on one nation but on all nations and civilized people everywhere."
President Bush put his focus back home. "I have been in contact with security folks and instructed them to be in touch with local and state officials about facts of what happened in London and to be extra vigilant."
The Department of Homeland Security asked for extra security on metro systems in Washington and other major cities. "Obviously, we're concerned about the possibility of a copycat attack," said Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security.
Amtrak also announced tightened precautions out of concern this morning's London transit blasts might be part of a wider plot. As for the hike in the terror alert level in the U.S., it applies only to rail and subway systems, not to airlines.
But security is visible elsewhere, here at the U.S. capitol and at the Pentagon as vivid reminders of Washington as a terrorist target too.