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CJ: Bombings in London

Eyewitness accounts from the attacks on the transit system in London.
Saira Khan took this photo Thursday with her cell phone.
Saira Khan took this photo Thursday with her cell phone.Saira Khan

MSNBC is asking those in London to share their experiences related to the attacks on the city's transit system.

Saira's diary
: BANG -- A SUDDEN STOP-JERK -- Looks of worry are being exchanged for a split second, its one of the few situations where people have almost found the courage to look at each other as the present rules of London underground are to avoid any contact with the people you travel amongst!

That's it people just wait and carry on reading there papers, books, notes, listen to music and some closed there eyes and remain steady for the normal announce meant to tell us 'We are on the move again'.... But something is strangely different, the emergency lights are on inside the carriage and outside on the tracks.

9:00: Announcement: 'Ladies and gentlemen ... they are unaware of what has caused this delay, a suspected fuse has blown on the tracks' which has caused the emergency lights to operate inside and outside the track. ...
Click here to read Saira Khan's entire diary of her experiences Thursday in London.

‘Something wasn’t quite right’
The first I knew that something wasn't quite right was traveling on an overground train into Charing Cross, a young woman was on her mobile talking to a friend who was at Liverpool Street, saying there had been an explosion. When I alighted the train the tube lines were closed, so I managed to squeeze on to an overcrowded bus. Sitting upstairs a man listening to the radio said a bus had just been "blown up" so we all started to feel uncomfortable, the bus halted and the driver came upstairs and asked as to look under our seats, the bus continued but then stopped again and evacuated. Walking through Hyde Park to work the noise of the rush of the emergency services and the sirens was constant, there was tangible realisation that it had finally happened. The centre of town was shut down, while Kensington where I now was, carried on as near as normal but tinged with sadness and apprehension.
--Richard, London

Comparing two dark days
As a New Yorker who now lives in London, I knew something was up as soon as I tried to make a cell phone call yesterday morning and found the network down. The only other time I have experienced that was on 9/11 and my heart pounded as I raced to a TV to make sure everything was ok. Obviously, it wasn't. Having moved to London after 9/11, I noticed the contrasts between the terrorist attacks in New York and London.

Personally, on 9/11 I had been at the World Trade Center site and saw the events unfold firsthand, having worked across the street. Luckily yesterday I was a safe distance away, but I was struck by how calm and orderly Londoners were in the scheme of things. While Londoners were surprised by the specifics of yesterday's attacks, since 9/11 they have been operating under a 'not if, but when' attitude and I think that helped get people through the disaster. The Emergency Services Personnel were well trained and ready, while businesses in the affected areas implemented their disaster plans until it became clear that the worst had pasted. Having weathered the IRA bombings in the 80s and 90s,I've found that Londoners are also much more used to terrorism than we were in New York prior to 9/11. Londoners, unfortunately, have been face to face with this type of thing many times before; It's become something they've learned to live with to a certain extent.

Having said that, so many of my English friends were ecstatic about winning the 2012 Olympic Games, feeling it was the first time in a long while that something good had happened to the city of London. One of the strangest things I saw yesterday was the morning papers' headlines of London winning 2012, next to the early editions with pictures of the morning's carnage. It's too bad that this great city didn't have more of a chance to celebrate and enjoy their accomplishment. So, this morning, Londoners got up and got back on their buses, trains and tubes (where running) and are going about their day, determined that life will go on. While there's a definite feeling of unrest and unease, as prayers go out to all the families of the injured, the English determination survives.
--A.M. Burns, London, but formerly of New York City

Lucky latte
I am in London where actor Pierce Brosnan assisted in finding my abducted daughter who had been missing for five plus years. I was on my way to another press interview on this case when I was about to board the train at Kings Cross. During this hour of morning, the trains are packed and at times, there is nowhere to move. Having just picked up my daily coffee from Starbucks I was in no mood to have it spill on me by boarding a very packed subway train so I turned and headed up the platform and made my way to the exits to walk the short distance when I heard an explosion. People started running towards the escalators...seeing this massive rush but not knowing why I turned and ran upwards as well, feeling that if I stopped I might be trampled.

My heart was racing for here I was running, but did not know exactly why. The looks on the faces of those behind me spoke volumes. Ironically, the coffee I didn't want to spill on me was all over my jacket as I sprinted towards the exit. Rumor began to spread amongst the confused crowd that there were other "attacks" going on around the city. What at first seemed like an isolated incident was confirmed to be an attack on the city of London. As I stood shaking at the thought of how close I came to boarding that train and if it were not for the coffee in my hand, in all probability I wouldn't be alive to write this e-mail. I searched around the world to find my missing daughter and through one miracle (Pierce Brosnan) I was able to find her and now through another one (a Latte' from Starbucks) I will be allowed to see her for another day!!

Text messages began to fill my cell phone from those who knew I was to be boarding the train at that time. Each text reminded me of how fragile life can be and how quickly it can be taken away. I will never forget the fear that I saw in the eyes of not just the people rushing to safety, but the heroism that merged from the people of London. They rose to the challenge and did so in a calm manner that made those of us around search within ourselves for the courage to do whatever we could to assist. No longer was the coffee on my jacket or missing an all-important interview a concern as I searched for those I knew to be in the city as well, making sure they were safe.

Though I am American, I can say that I was very proud of how our brothers and sisters across the Atlantic handle such a horrific situation. The way everyone was concerned about one another reminded me of how we as Americans bonded during 911. To be in the middle of such a disaster and to witness the highs and the lows of its effect is very hard to put into words. The tears that flowed from my face then and do so now at just the thought of what occurred 24 hrs ago says it all.
--Josef Cannon, Marina Del Rey, Calif.

Fortunate schedule change
Part of me doesn't know what to say, part of me feels like I don't have anything worth saying, nothing new worth contributing to the universe, considering all that is going on around me. My story isn't tragic (and I am sooo thankful for that) and it isn't even that dramatic, it's a grateful, hopeful story containing a little fear, and some tears, but mostly love and gratitude. I normally take the Metropolitan line of the Underground to work and get off at the Liverpool Street stop around 8:30/9:00am. If today would have been a normal day at work I most likely would have been on the first train that was bombed this morning. Thankfully today was not a normal day at work for me.

I was a little annoyed that the program manager for the bank's analyst training program made me run the group's orientation community service event all by myself. I had to get up early and take two different tube lines to an area in east London just outside of the financial district where UBS is. It was a city farm -- which I didn't know existed, an acre or so of land with gardens and cows and pigs and goats surrounded by the loud chaotic city. I arrived at it was raining, no one else was there. I was annoyed and called the office, my co worker told me there were some problems on the underground but didn't know what. Shortly later they arrived and said that there were a lot of delayed trains. If you have ever spent any time in London you know this is a near daily occurrence. We took to our city farm work, we marveled at what has to be the biggest pig we have ever seen, we shoveled hay, and talked with a farmhand about the price of wool.

There were helicopters over head and sirens all around. We called work, we couldn't get though, we turned on the radio in one building, we started to hear something about bombs. I called my mom and left a message saying that I didn't know for sure what was happening, but IF it made it to the news in the states that she shouldn't worry.

I got though to someone at UBS only to find out that the building I work in had been evacuated. I called my co workers and friends who work at UBS over and over, all mobile phone lines were jammed. We had no choice but to keep working on the farm and to keep trying to call. by early afternoon we had heard most of the story and I finally got though to some people. We finished up our work in the rain and left the farm. There were no bus or tubes and a lot of traffic (including people walking) weren't allowed on all the streets around the bombed tube stations. I had no map and wasn't really sure of how to get home. It took hours but I finally managed to walk back to my flat. I spoke with my mom, all of my London friends, and a few friends in the States before I got home to find the flood of panicked emails. I can't express how lucky I feel that neither me nor anyone I know here was hurt and that I am loved by so many people in two different countries. I keep reading and listening to the news, I am still shocked and a bit shaken. I still feel a little bit like crying. I still love London- this is an amazing city with amazing people (that has been shown today). The world is a scary place these days, but I refuse to live my life in fear.
--Kathleen Davis, Ann Arbor Mich./London, UK

‘September 11 for London’
I was evacuated at Monument Station this morning on the Northern Line. We weren't allowed to leave the train at Old Street where they found one of the bombs. When we got off the train they made us run out of the station. The next station away another bomb had gone off. Then I found out my friend in Russell Square had witnessed the bus explosion. There was absolute chaos everywhere in the streets. No cell phones worked and I wasn't allowed to leave the street. I can only say that the police and emergency teams of London were absolutely miraculous in how they handled everything. This was September 11th for London.
--Ryan Wayne, Raleigh, N.C.

‘A loud bang-like collision’
Was traveling this morning in the Hammersmith and City line, when we got to Edgware there was a loud bang-like collision and lights went off and we were asked to leave the station. (At) 8:50, walked down to Baker Street, got into bus 18 to go to Euston. When i got there people were being evacuated from the underground, everybody stood outside confused waiting for buses. In the process there was a loud bang the other side of the road with no doubt I knew it was a bomb. It was a bus in Tavistock square. (At) 9h45, police were already around, and the area was closed, I started walking back towards Baker Street till I got the bus home.

I started making my way home immediately which was around 10h00, got home around 1130. (It) would normally take 15 minutes on a bus. Main road A501 was jammed with cars. I was walking towards Harrow Road when I got to A5 crossing just at Edgware Road Station. The area was closed, the policewoman who was standing there redirected us towards Euston -- she said it was the safest direction and I said to her, no, because i had just walked all way from Euston, where the bus exploded, There was just confusion at the at time, it was just shock and disbelief. I got home watched it on TV, made few phone calls to check on people. I am still shocked.
--Phildah Molobi, London

Perspective from American tourist
The streets were oddly empty. You could feel and see the difference easily, just comparing yesterday with today. Everyone seems calm. The police seem calm, in control, and on top of where they want you to walk and what they want you to do. Everyone who lives here is confused and concerned. You can see it on their faces as they walk by. On the other hand us tourists have less to worry about. We know where we are sleeping tonight and we're not trying to get home … without the tube … to an area 10 miles away for instance. I talked to one salesclerk who had to walk into work today after the busses just kicked everyone off and she lives 10 miles from her store. Most roads are closed, there are no busses and no trains now, she was going to close the store and start walking. We were her last customers of the day. We bought shoes.

Anyway when we left here we walked to the Soho area. There are no red double-decker busses running, no busses of any kind running, and no one was, this morning, using their cell phones. We went to a restaurant at high noon and no one was in it. No one. We walked by this same restaurant in Soho yesterday, a place called Pizza Express, and it was packed for lunch. So we ate alone -- sadly the only people in the place the whole lunch hour.

After lunch we started to walk and noticed that 90 percent of the shops were closed. No stores, few restaurants, even the coffee shops were closed. So we walked to a large Macy's like store called Selfridges. It was basically empty, but it was open. Since it was raining, we went in to shop. Within 30 minutes they closed the whole store. Employees told us it would not be open tomorrow either.

So we walked back to Soho. There are all these gay pubs there, with TVs and stuff, and we thought we'd hang out for a bit. They were all open yesterday in the late afternoon. Today they were all closed.
--Michael Nelson, Seattle, Wash.

Close calls
My best friend was running late this morning and missed getting on the train at King's Cross so caught the one behind. When this was stopped and she found out the train she missed had been blown up she left the train she was on and tried to catch a bus -- again she missed the first one and had to catch the one behind. Minutes later her bus was gridlocked in traffic and police cars were trying to get through with their sirens blaring. Her bus driver suddenly opened the doors and told everyone to get off because more bombs were going off. She left the bus and asked police what was happening. they told her that a bus -- the one she had missed- had been blown up. She then walked six miles to get out of central London and finally found a way to get home. Needless to say she and everyone close to her feel very lucky that she is still with us and not at all injured.
--Liz Withersby, Sutton, Surrey (Greater London)

A perspective from a Utah tourist
I'm in London on a 'study-abroad' trip with students from Southern Utah University in Cedar City. We were getting ready to get on the underground when we were deterred. Later we tried to get a bus, but they were very full and were not stopping to load more passengers. Finally, we decided to walk the four-plus miles to Shakespeare's Globe and St. Paul's Cathedral -- the two sites on our agenda for the day. We still did not have any news as to why things were shutting down. As we walked, we noticed buses driving by - empty -- or no buses at all. We also began to overhear news reports, people talking on cell phones, and other pieces of information that we could gather.

By the time we confirmed what had happened, we were nearly to our destination. St. Paul's was closed for a special mass, and the performances at the Globe were cancelled. Major tourist/important cites in London closed -- for obvious reasons. It has been interesting to be here -- close by - and not know what is going on. We all called our families to check in so they knew we were all okay, but it's still frightening to be so far away from home at a time like this.
--Jacqueline Mills, Toquerville, Utah

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