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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Explosions Rock London Subway, Destroy Bus
Aired July 7, 2005 - 04:48 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Ralitsa Vassileva at the CNN Center with this breaking news story. We're watching live pictures from King Cross Station on the subway line in London. There has been an incident that authorities say has caused a system-wide outage on the metro system. We are joined now on the phone by journalist Oran O'Reilly who is there at the scene at King Cross Station.
Oran, thank you so much for joining us. Tell us what exactly happened and what you are seeing around you.
ORAN O'REILLY, JOURNALIST: It's at Aldgate East, Aldgate Station in the east of London and there is about 12 or 15 fire trucks here. A lot of rescue service and we have a fire brigade command unit has just pulled up. We saw a lot of - two people get off that had been on the train - it looks like - they said they had heard an explosion. The train derailed but they managed to get off. They had a lot of smoke inhalation around their mouths and nose, all looking a bit emotional and that's as much as I can say at the moment.
VASSILEVA: So there was an explosion?
O'REILLY: Well, I asked, did they hear an explosion or see an explosion and they said - one person said they heard an explosion and another person said the whole train just sort of derailed.
VASSILEVA: So basically we do not know for sure whether there was an explosion or whether it was just a derailment that could have caused a sound which might have sounded to one of the passengers as an explosion.
O'REILLY: Exactly. Underground the noise would just be - it would just make it much, much louder so - but the police seem to be very active here, though we'll have to wait another few minutes to find what's happening.
VASSILEVA: And did they tell you exactly where they thought that this explosion occurred? Where the derailment occurred? Was it above ground, underground, close to the station?
O'REILLY: It was underground. Underground, they said so.
VASSILEVA: And right now you say that police are very active. We're watching those live pictures. We do see, they seem to be clearing the area there. O'REILLY: Yes. They are trying - they keep trying to push myself out. They are clearing the area here at Aldgate and just closing off all the main roads coming in and around Aldgate Station in East London.
VASSILEVA: And are they saying why they are doing this? Are they fearful that there could be more danger?
O'REILLY: I asked them. They said it was a train crash but they've just been a bit too (unintelligible).
VASSILEVA: Are there any concerns that this could be in any way foul play, terrorism related?
O'REILLY: Well, they are cordoning off this area and making it wider and wider and they are closing some of the shops also in the area so it's hard to say.
VASSILEVA: So basically they are worried that something - that there might be more risk there.
O'REILLY: Definitely. Very much so. Yes. They are trying to get all the people on the streets off, closing the shops and getting everyone back as far away as possible from the station.
VASSILEVA: What time of day is it, Oran?
O'REILLY: It is now ten to 10:00 here in London. So this either happened either 30 minutes ago or maybe a little bit more.
VASSILEVA: So it must have been close to morning rush hour.
O'REILLY: Oh, definitely rush hour. I was trying to get on the Tube myself and I wasn't able to get through. They told us that the power was down but when we came up to the ground level and came out to try and get a bus we could see something more than that just happening.
VASSILEVA: And how would you describe the area around where that happened?
O'REILLY: It's very much a city area. It is very much a business area. A lot of banks and some financial institutions. Not too far away from the main financial institution, which is bank (ph), which is about half a mile away from Aldgate. The trains were heading towards bank (ph) station, where it is a financial area.
VASSILEVA: And from what you know, Oran, just two people hurt or could there be more?
O'REILLY: Well, I met one group of three and then a man on his own and so - I just happened to come across them because I could see they had smoke inhalation on their faces but I am sure there is more. There is a lot of (unintelligible) here, a lot of ambulance service here, so they are probably expecting the worst. VASSILEVA: Did they say exactly - Did they describe the scene and the extent to which they were engulfed in smoke - that means that there was a fire ...
O'REILLY: That's what I asked but they - just they were a bit too emotional and kept walking away. I think they've been through a bit of a rough time of it.
VASSILEVA: I am sure there has been a very rough experience for them. That's not surprising at all but it does indicate if they have smoke inhalation - How did they appear to you when you say they had signs of smoke inhalation on their faces?
O'REILLY: Just a lot of black around the nose and the mouth and eyes sort of watery and red cheeks. If you've been in a smoky room or something, you know your eyes tend to get a bit teary. So they just looked - that's how it looked to me, anyway.
VASSILEVA: I am thinking about the timing. You say it was morning rush hour. A power outage. This is quite a busy day, I would assume, in London, just one day after the city celebrated being selected to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2012.
O'REILLY: Oh well, I don't think trains will be able to run every 15 seconds like they say. This is just closed down the whole city. I am hearing from different people on the street here there was five explosions at 10 to 9:00 around the different major Tube and train arteries of the city. Edgware Road, King's Cross. Myself here in Aldgate. But we'll have to wait and see what the press office say.
VASSILEVA: Live explosion all on the metro line.
O'REILLY: Well, that's what I'm just hearing from different people on the street here but they've yet to be confirmed.
VASSILEVA: People on the streets are saying five explosions on the metro line?
O'REILLY: On different tube lines coming into different tube stations and train stations around the city. But the police are getting even more active here and keep pushing us further and further back.
VASSILEVA: Does it seem that the system has been paralyzed?
O'REILLY: Oh, this city is shut down for the day, it looks like, so we'll have to wait and see.
VASSILEVA: And a lot of people use this metro system, the Tube system to get to work?
O'REILLY: Oh, hundreds of thousands would use the tube each day to get to and from work so yes, and you've got to remember, once you start closing down the roads that would connect around these tube stations, you also have probably knocked out all the bus service so it makes it twice as hard to get anywhere. VASSILEVA: So basically what we're looking at is a paralyzed city at the beginning of the workday?
O'REILLY: Definitely. Yes. Most definitely.
VASSILEVA: And what are you seeing around you? You say the cordon, the police are trying to widen this cordon. Is there a sense of panic?
O'REILLY: Well, there is a lot of people out in the streets who have come out from their offices to see what's going on. I mean, we've got - now we've got mounted police here. I've got about five mounted police in front of me. I'm about a hundred meters back from the tube station and they just keep pushing us, pushing us further back towards the city area which is Bank (ph). I'm on a place called Fenchurch Street now.
VASSILEVA: Is there any sign that people are leaving the office buildings, trying to evacuate?
O'REILLY: They haven't said that yet but they keep moving us back and you can probably hear all the noise. They've got megaphones now so they're moving everyone further and further back.
VASSILEVA: You're being moved back as we speak?
O'REILLY: Yes. As I speak. Yes. There's five mounted police with megaphones telling everyone to move, move, move.
VASSILEVA: And any explanation given from the authorities?
O'REILLY: Not yet. Not yet.
VASSILEVA: It's just what you're hearing from people.
O'REILLY: Yes, I mean, the police are saying to evacuate the street now so we're having to move.
VASSILEVA: Oran. Putting this - trying to put this in perspective. At this point we do not know exactly what caused this, whether it was just a power outage or whether there was foul play involved but was there any indication prior to this happening this week, any possibility of any threats being issued, anything that comes to mind?
O'REILLY: Well, I myself am not aware of any of those situations but I wouldn't be in the top of the pile to find out but I mean, I haven't heard anything. Well, certainly nothing in the papers or on the radios or in the news.
VASSILEVA: Are there a lot of incidents like that with power outages? Is that a common thing to happen or is it very unusual.
O'REILLY: The tube does have a power outage every so often but not at this scale. It would be an individual line breakdown. You certainly wouldn't be closing the whole network. VASSILEVA: And how would you describe the general state of the system, the tube system? Its maintenance ...
O'REILLY: It always has little quirks. Every so often a tube does go down. I'm not a frequent user myself but I do hear stories where the tube has sort of - a lot of delays during the day, a lot of people trying to use it, it gets busy, but sometimes it's power failures, but I don't think anything this scale.
VASSILEVA: As we are talking I am looking at these live pictures from the King Cross Station and I see more and ore people on the streets as we are speaking. More people moving - more movement of people moving away from this area. Are you seeing the same thing around where you are?
O'REILLY: Yes, definitely. Definitely yes. The police are trying to get everyone out of the way here.
VASSILEVA: Does this mean that evacuations have been recommended from the buildings, the business, the office buildings nearby?
O'REILLY: They haven't said that yet but the way this activity is happening I would say just precaution from employers they would probably do the same (ph). But then where do you send them? There's nowhere to go. There's no way to get home. So they are probably safer to stay in the buildings they are in.
VASSILEVA: The only way is just to keep walking away and as you say, it means that these people will have to walk a long distance before they can even get to any possibility of getting home.
O'REILLY: Exactly. And they could be in the wrong direction because where they face - they could live at the other side of this Tube station. But all these streets towards that Tube station have been closed off and cornered off.
VASSILEVA: Oran O'Reilly, thank you so much. We'll rejoin you again, let you get some more facts on the story. Thank you so much for bringing us this latest, as you're being moved away by authorities and being evacuated there from the scene. An unknown source of an incident which caused a system-wide outage in the Tube system in London. I would like to bring in my colleague, Charles Hodson in London. He joins me now.
Charles, what have you been able to learn about what exactly happened?
CHARLES HODSON, CNN ANCHOR: I think what exactly happened, that is something that is going to elude us a little while longer. Certainly what - there's talk of - certainly one explosion at Aldgate Station. You have been seeing the pictures there from outside. And there maybe other stations involved. We are currently working to check out reports that at least two, if not three other major stations in Central London, there have been similar instances to the one at Aldgate. But certainly in terms of what the police are treating this as, this is a major incident, despite the fact they're talking about walking wounded rather than major casualties, all the emergency services have been mobilized. And this is actually something I actually, personally, as a Londoner, cannot remember happening for some time, if at all and that is a shutdown of the entire network. The entire London Underground system has been shut down.
Now, this particular incident, whatever it was, explosion, power outage, power surge, is certainly the most likely culprit. We seem to be at least 90 percent sure that's what happened. This took place at 10 to 9:00 in the morning so almost at the height of the rush hour. This is going to cause huge disruption. Many millions of people in and around the city rely on the Underground to get to work every day.
We are looking at something which is extremely untoward, and there will be an awful lot of questions asked about this, particularly in light of the fact that London has just been awarded the 2012 summer Olympics and transport infrastructure is a key area. And, it might be said, a key area that London needs to work on -- Ralitsa.
RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Charles, thank you very much. We'll be rejoining you in just a moment. But I wanted to recap what we know at this moment for the viewers. Some may be just joining us here at the top of the hour.
What we know at this point, that there has been one, possibly two to three, by some reports, possibly five explosions at different locations, major stations on -- along the tube, what the Londoners call the tube, which is the metro system of London. At this point, only walking -- what we call walking wounded. That is, people with -- with injuries who are able to walk away from the scene. That's reported.
One explosion for sure we have at Aldgate station. We had a reporter there, Oran O'Reilly, who was at Aldgate station where one of those explosions took place underground. And basically all emergency services are mobilized at this point. A shutdown of the entire underground metro system, the tube, has been closed.
That's a major, major incident. It happened around 8:50, almost at the height of rush hour. And this metro system paralyzed at this point, paralyzing the city. Hundreds of thousands use it to go to work every day.
We would like to say goodbye now to our domestic viewers who joined us also for this breaking news. And we will continue with the international viewers to follow this story very closely as we try to get the latest information out of quite an unusual and major incident in London, where we are reporting several explosions possibly caused by a power outage.
At this time we do not know the exact cause and how this happened. But we do know from authorities that somehow a power outage has caused several explosions. FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: You've been watching CNN International. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta, and this is DAYBREAK. It is Thursday, July 7.
Breaking news to tell you about this morning. An explosion on London's subway system. It's being called a major incident. Scotland Yard is on the scene.
Plus, the weight of the world on their shoulders. In Scotland, the leaders of the world's eight richest nations consider how best to help the globe's poorest.
And getting slammed in the southeast, but is this merely a prelude of something worse?
ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is DAYBREAK with Fredricka Whitfield.
WHITFIELD: Good morning, everyone. We'll have more on the G-8 summit in a moment, including the protests. Our own Matthew Chance getting caught up in the whole mess there.
And later, will the world leaders listen to the people who have rocked the world? The final Live 8 concert in Scotland.
But first, here are our top stories.
Word coming in within the last hour there has been an explosion on a major subway line in London's financial district. Several people have been hurt. No reports of deaths at this time. Authorities are also looking into reports of another explosion on the line, but details are sketchy. The entire subway system in London has been shut down.
A death sentence hangs over Egypt's top envoy in Iraq. The terrorist group associated with al Qaeda says it will kill Ihab al- Sherif. It's not an idle threat. The group has beheaded other hostages before.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban claimed to be holding a U.S. commando, but the U.S. military cannot confirm that. The Taliban has been saying it would release video of the downing of a U.S. chopper last week, but so far none has turned up.
The U.S. military is changing policy when it comes to the deaths of service members. It will now require them to name someone to handle the remains. A Defense Department official says the aim is to prevent heartache that results when divorced couples fight over the remains of their loved ones.
Let's check in with Chad Myers.
Good morning to you, Chad. A very strange weather system taking place. Particularly, hitting the southeast right now.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That is correct, Fredricka. (WEATHER REPORT)
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Chad.
MYERS: You're welcome.
WHITFIELD: Well, they're getting down to work in Scotland right now. The first working session of the G-8 summit opens this hour. Our European political editor, Robin Oakley, is there.
And Robin, President Bush and Britain's Prime Minister Blair still agreeing to disagree on global warming-related issues, right?
All right. Sorry about that. We're going to try to work out that audio problem and get back to Robin when we get that straightened out.
Meantime, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama is asking the U.S. Navy to join the search for Natalee Holloway. A Huntsville, Alabama, television station is reporting that Shelby made the request after getting a letter from Aruba's prime minister.
Meanwhile, Holloway's mother is being threatened with a lawsuit for her comments during the ongoing investigation. CNN's David Mattingly brings us up to date.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than a month after Natalee Holloway's disappearance in Aruba, the sound of military jets on a high-altitude search reminds everyone, all is still not well in paradise: warplanes overhead, a war of words below. A statement released by the attorney for Satish Kalpoe, one of the two suspects recently released from jail, takes aim at these angry words from Natalee's mother.
BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE'S MOTHER: These criminals are not only allowed to walk freely among the tourists and citizens of Aruba, but there are no limits where they choose to travel.
MATTINGLY: The statement from the defense attorney Elgin Zeppenfeldt calls her words, "prejudicial, inflammatory, libelous and totally outrageous." He goes on writing, "in light of the applicable principle of presumption of innocence, Mr. Kalpoe deeply resents the statement of Mrs. Beth Twitty, calling him a criminal with a flight risk." And the attorney writes Holloway's mother, "publicly acted as judge, jury and executioner."
He threatened legal action if the comments do not stop.
JOHN MERRYWEATHER, FORMER ARUBAN AMBASSADOR: When she starts calling them criminals walking among tourism, she is warmongering. She is creating, she is -- when I say warmongering, I'm using war very loosely. She is frightening people, because this is simply not true. And then you get disappointed. MATTINGLY: Former Aruban Ambassador John Merryweather is among natives sympathetic to Holloway's family, but losing patience with criticism of the handling of the investigation.
MERRYWEATHER: She had 110 percent backing from the country, from the government, from the people, from the Marines, from the FBI, from the Dutch specialists and I mean -- yesterday and today, F-16s flying over to find Natalee for us all, the Holloways and the Aruban people, because we are hurting.
MATTINGLY: According to a government spokesman, the Holloway disappearance has not affected the influx of tourists. Even now during what used to be known as the slow season, hotels report overbooking situations.
At the beach resort where Natalee once stayed, the F-16s are the only outward sign that anything is different. But tourist Barbara Crawford, who followed the case from her home in Toronto, now watches her own daughter a little more closely.
BARBARA CRAWDFORD, CANADIAN TOURIST: You can't stop yourself as a parent, from just looking at the landscape. You know? You're almost -- you're afraid to look around at the rock formations and the different ruins and you think: I wonder if that's where she is.
MATTINGLY: They're concerns shared across international lines. Petra Ruyter and her family came from the Netherlands with Natalee on their minds.
PETRA RUYTER, NETHERLANDS TOURIST: I hope we don't found her ourself.
MATTINGLY: You're worried?
RUYTER: Because you have your daughter with you. We are protecting her now.
MATTINGLY: Aruban residents, however, frequently ask openly: How much more can be done? and express concerns for the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have done so much to try to locate the body, the government, police, ambulance, the military, you see these planes now, I mean, I don't know. I think only God can help us right now.
MATTINGLY (on camera): And as the search goes on, concerns continue to grow over what the long-term effects might be if the mystery of Natalee Holloway is never solved and the island becomes forever known as the place where she vanished without a trace.
David Mattingly, CNN, Palm Beach, Aruba.
WHITFIELD: Let's go back to Scotland now, where the first working session is under way, or at least was under way just shortly -- a short while ago. European Political Editor Robin Oakley is there.
And Robin, how are things going?
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, Fredricka, Tony Blair has been welcoming all the leaders formally at the start of this opening session, and it's a session that's going to be devoted to the subject of climate change, greenhouse gases, global warming, all those kinds of issues. And that, of course, is an issue which is going to put the focus very much on President George W. Bush, because he is the one member of the G-8 who did not sign up to the Kyoto protocol by which 84 countries agreed to limit their CO2 emissions.
And Tony Blair and President Bush had breakfast together this morning and talked to reporters afterwards on some of the climate change issues. And the president admitted that his refusal to join in Kyoto had been pretty unpopular, but he urged people to look to the future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The former constructs just didn't work for us. And I fully recognize that by making that point, it was not a popular position in parts of the world. Now is a time to get beyond the Kyoto period and develop a strategy forward that is inclusive not only of the United States, but of the developing nations, and, of course, nations like Great Britain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OAKLEY: Well, of course the president welcomed the fact that Tony Blair had addressed his problem with Kyoto by having some of those key developing nations, big energy users here at the G-8. So we've got the leaders of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, as well as the G-8 leaders, to discuss climate change issues. And President Bush said the way forward was new technology.
The U.S. spending $20 billion a year on clean energy technology. Tony Blair acknowledged that and said that was a potential way forward. And he said what they had to do was agree here that there was a problem and agree on a pathway forward when the Kyoto treaty runs out in 2012 -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Robin Oakley, thank you so much.
Storms are menacing the southeast as the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy caused severe flooding. Strong winds, downed trees and power lines forced the evacuation of a nine-story condo near Atlanta. The central Gulf Coast is soggy from Louisiana to southeastern Appalachians.
Hurricane Dennis is building strength and is on its way toward the Gulf Coast. Forecasters expect Dennis to make landfall near Mobile, Alabama, sometime on Monday.
And just outside Atlanta at a small airfield, several airplane hangars were destroyed. At least four planes were severely damaged.
Richard Elliott of our Atlanta affiliate WSB joins us now from Hampton, Georgia.
And still windy and a little rainy, right, Richard?
RICHARD ELLIOTT, REPORTER, WSB: Yes, actually -- actually, this just picked up about five minutes ago. It had been a pretty peaceful night after a very, very violent -- a very violent night.
Let me get out of the way here and you can see some of Tara Field behind me. Tara Field is a small airport that's actually right next door to Atlanta Motor Speedway here in Hampton in Henry County, Georgia.
At about 9:00 or so last night, some very, very violent weather blew into the area. First it hit Atlanta Motor Speedway and damaged that nine-story condo. Then it came over here to Tara Field.
The hangar that you're looking at now, they tell us that the high winds actually blew the hangar doors off of the hangar. It ripped the roof off, and it damaged that plane inside. They tell us that plane inside is totaled.
Now, I don't know if we're going to be able to see it over to the left a little bit, but that plane right there, that's a -- what they call a Falcon 20. And right next to it is a Leer jet.
Now, those two planes were about 100, 150 feet away from where they are right now. The winds were so heavy, they literally pushed the planes across the tarmac, smashed them into each other. And the big plane right there, the Falcon, the wing of it is -- it punched through a wrought iron fence right over there on the left.
Now, over at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the director -- the general manager of the Motor Speedway is estimating damage to the raceway at -- in excess of $40 million. He's not going to be able to figure out exactly how much.
ELLIOTT: It could be more than that. He's not going to be able to figure out how much more until daybreak, when he can get a real good look at it.
That's the way things are right now in Henry County.
WHITFIELD: Well Richard, looking at that kind of damage, are they at least calling this some sort of -- the result of tornadic activity?
ELLIOTT: They may not know that until morning, when they can look at the damage. A lot of that is decided by looking at the track of the storm, the track of the damage, and really kind of the direction that the damage is pushed.
So a lot of people say they heard tornadoes. We interviewed a couple of folks and they said they heard the freight train that so many people say that they hear. But they won't know if it actually is tornadoes or straight-lined winds or a micro bursts until daybreak.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, Richard Elliott, of our affiliate WSB, thanks so much.
Chad Myers, it certainly looks like the results of perhaps tornadic activity.
MYERS: It could have been. The Weather Service has not been out there, as Richard was saying.
They actually take a look at how the damage is thrown around. They want to know whether this car was pushed to the east and another car a little bit farther to the left was pushed to the west. And if that happens, that indicates some type of circulation with the damage.
If all the damage is going one direction, all the trees are knocked down one direction, that's usually a micro burst, as Richard was saying, or straight-lined winds that pushed something else. But I'll tell you what, it's difficult to get that type of damage with just winds. Something has to be up there.
Probably winds at 80 miles per hour couldn't do that type of damage. Not that. I mean, millions of dollars to that condo unit there. So we'll see -- we'll see probably -- I'd say about 2:00 the Weather Service will be out there and they'll look around, maybe even fly over it and give us a better idea.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll be looking for that. Thanks a lot, Chad.
MYERS: You're welcome.
WHITFIELD: Coming up, protesters show up, along with world leaders, at the G-8 summit in Scotland. We'll tell you what they were doing there, besides making a whole lot of noise.
And the Live 8 concert wraps up with a big finish in Scotland. You thought it was over, over the weekend? Well, no. There was yet one more. We'll tell you how the shows rocked the world.
And Hurricane Dennis barrels toward land. We'll follow the path of the storm as it makes its way closer to the Gulf Coast.
But first, here's a look at what else is making news this Thursday morning.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. WHITFIELD: This breaking story we continue to follow. It's being called a major incident.
At least one explosion rocking London's subway system. They know it as the tube. And that explosion has now shut down the entire system, and it's in the middle of morning rush hour there in London.
Let's bring in our Charles Hodson, who is in London to give us more about what happened -- Charles.
HODSON: Fredricka, this is -- this is a major incident, as you say, and it is, as it develops, as we start to get more information about it, a very worrying one.
The latest report that we have is that there has been a bus explosion, in addition to the explosions on the tube. I'll report on those in a moment. But according to eyewitnesses for -- who have been talking to our sister network, ITN, ITV News, and also according to police, the Reuters News Agency, there has been an explosion on a bus in Bloomsbury in central London.
That is just a little bit east of where I'm sitting at the moment. It is right in the very heart of London.
As for the incidents on the tube which have closed down the entire subway system, as you rightly say, there -- initially there was reports of one at Aldgate, which is a station to the east of the city center, to the east of what we call the city, the financial district. There are also reports of explosions at Edgware Road, which is to the northwest of the city center, and also at Russell Square, again, very close to this explosion of the bus in Bloomsbury.
And there are other reports as they come in now. At the moment, police are talking about walking wounded.
HODSON: But the bus explosion apparently literally ripped apart a double-decker bus.
WHITFIELD: All right, Charles. Want to get back to you in a moment.
HODSON: We'll bring you more details as we get them -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: OK, Charles. Let me get back to you in a moment, because Julie Anne French with the London Police Department, she's a spokesperson who's on the telephone with us.
And Ms. French, maybe you can give us more specifically, was there one explosion or are there several explosions taking place on the tube?
JULIE ANNE FRENCH, LONDON POLICE: OK. I don't actually know anything at this stage about other explosions since I'm in the office and answering calls. The only incident I know about is the Aldgate underground station.
We would deal with the city of London only. Our colleagues in the metropolitan police would be more aware of something that was happening around London. And so we'd be working with them to find out what's going on there.
WHITFIELD: All right. So at least one explosion then taking place at Aldgate station. Give us a sense as to what kind of rescue or emergency mission is underway right now.
FRENCH: Sure. Well, we have all the emergency services are on the scene at the moment. So we've got the ambulance service. We're working with out colleagues in the British Transport Police as well, and fire service as well are down there. And obviously the city of London police are there trying to find out what's going on.
So -- and -- but there is a number of emergency services down there, which makes it a major incident.
WHITFIELD: And with the emergency services there, are they relaying any information to you about injuries and the types of injuries that the people have encountered there?
FRENCH: Sure. Sure. We do know that there have been a number of casualties. As to the extent of those casualties, we haven't got that information yet of the nature of them. Obviously we're working with people in the ambulance service to try and find out that.
WHITFIELD: And it is true then that the entire subway system has been shut down?
FRENCH: Again, I only know the Aldgate underground station is closed and cordoned off. You may actually have more up-to-date information than myself.
FRENCH: Liverpool Street station as well, the underground is closed and cordoned off, too. So that's the information that I have.
WHITFIELD: OK. And you all were informed how? Who made a call, or how were you informed of this explosion taking place?
FRENCH: Well, it happened at approximately 8:50 this morning, and obviously our officers on the street would have been the ones to tell us. Went it went off, obviously British Transport Police would have been on the scene, because they obviously run the transport and the policing of the underground, et cetera.
And so they would come through them, and we would have seen them on the scene immediately.
WHITFIELD: And when there are such incidents, or any kind of incident of calamity that takes place involving the tube system, how usually does it take place? You have an awful lot of various authorities and departments that have to work together. What's the procedure?
FRENCH: To be quite honest, I don't know what the procedure is. I work in the press office, unfortunately. So you'd need to be speaking to people (INAUDIBLE).
WHITFIELD: All right. Julie Anne French, spokesperson for the London Police. Thank you so much.
Back to Charles Hodson now of CNN and the London bureau.
Charles, listening to Ms. French, it's unclear what kinds of injuries we are talking about. But, indeed, she does acknowledge there are some injuries that have taken place in the tube system.
HODSON: That is true. Certainly that is a sketchy area. But, however, just while you've been talking to Ms. French, we have had confirmation from Scotland Yard -- that is the headquarters of the metropolitan police in London -- that there have been a total of seven explosions.
Let me break those down for you. Six on the underground, the tube, as we call it, the subway. And they are at Edgware Road, King's Cross, which is a major transport nodal point to the north of the city center, Liverpool Street. Again, a very, very important mainline rail terminus and an important route for many people who commute into the city. The financial district to the east there.
Russell Square, which is in Bloomsbury, Aldgate east, again, an important point. That's just to the east of the city center. Again, key for people coming into the city. And Moorgate, again, in the city, the financial district.
And the seventh episode is -- the seventh incident, literally appears to have torn a double--decker bus apart. So I think we have to think that there must be casualties there. And that took place, as far as we can work out, in Bloomsbury at Tavistock Place. That is near Russell Square, and, in fact, very close to my own home -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so, Charles, when you say there were seven reported explosions, six of which taking place in the underground, when you talk about the double-decker bus, was that a separate explosion, or that was a casualty as a result of one of the explosions at the underground?
HODSON: No, that is a quite separate above-ground explosion.
HODSON: We do not have any details of that. The details of that are just coming out.
Tavistock Place is -- it's an area which is associated very much with Bloomsbury, with the university, the University of London, a number of buildings of that sort, various hotels, a lot of kind of backpacking hostels. It's very much a student area, not so much a shopping area or a financial area, but certainly one which would have been quite busy at 8:50 in the morning, which is when -- which is when these explosions started, 8:50 local time -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Is Scotland Yard, Charles, saying anything about whether these were simultaneous explosions or back to back? How are they investigating them?
HODSON: I'm not sure as to the exact timing. Certainly my impression is that the explosions, the six explosions, or certainly the first two or three of the explosions that took place on the tube, seem to have been almost simultaneous. And originally, these were attributed or have been attributed quite firmly, in fact, to a power surge. But I think with the explosion on the bus -- and again, I'm speculating here -- but given that there has been an explosion above ground, nothing to do with the subway system, then I think one has to say we are looking at something beyond what might have been just an enormous technical fault.
A catastrophic technical fault which has plunged the entire transport infrastructure of the city into -- into confusion and chaos with the entire system shut down, but nevertheless, a technical one. We may be looking at something more ominous than that. I don't want to put it beyond that, but it is very worrying for those of who live in the city -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And Charles, one more time, this taking place at 8:50 a.m., the height of rush hour there. Let's talk about some of those underground stations you mentioned. King's Cross being a very notable, very busy station, as are the others, but King's Cross particularly busy.
HODSON: Yes, King's Cross, which is my local station, in fact -- my apartment is literally about five minutes' walk to the south of that -- King's Cross has about five underground lines, tube, subway lines. It is also a major point.
King's Cross and St. Pancras, in fact, are two mainline railway stations which bring commuters in from the north and the northwest of the city, and the northeast of the city, to a limited extent, as well. So that is a hugely important transport place.
It is actually also a building site on an epic scale there, because that is where the Eurostar -- that is the rail link which connects London with the Channel Tunnel, and, of course, beyond that, with Brussels and Paris in France -- that is where the work is underway to upgrade that and make it into a much larger center. There's a tremendous amount of confusion, barriers, usually a very large police presence. And it is crowded, crowded, crowded, I can tell you, at 8:50.
So this is definitely very worrying for those of us who live in the city, apart from those of us who are trying to work out what is going on -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And, Charles, the proximity of the other five Underground stations, these six in all, are they fairly widespread throughout the system? Are they rather clustered close enough together near the financial district near the downtown area?
HODSON: Yes, definitely. King's Cross is outside the financial district, but not very far to the northwest of it. Moorgate is a station which is right in the financial district. Moorgate is probably, what, about 300 yards from the Bank of England, which is considered the center, the epicenter, if you like, of the city.
Aldgate east is one, which is just, again, just outside the financial district, but very close, almost a stone's throw only from the city walls. And Liverpool Street, again, a very important mainline rail nodal point, as well as an Underground point. That, again, is within the heart of the city. So it does look as if it were focused on the city.
Edgware Road is towards the northwest of the city center, not very far away. But in a sense, they seem to almost ring the city, these explosions -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And just to recap, real quick, for people who are just now joining us. Charles HODSON finding out from Scotland Yard there that at least seven explosions have taken place in and throughout the City of London, including six of those explosions taking place in the subway system, what the folks there know as the Tube system. All of them fairly spread out, but all pivotal and significant Underground stations, very crowded. This taking place at 8:50 a.m. in London time in the height of rush hour traffic.
Charles, thanks so much for joining us there from London.
Fionnuala Sweeney is now also joining us to give us a sense as to how the investigation is unfolding. It's still very early. Seven reported explosions, including six at the subway station, as I mentioned, Fionnuala, and one apparently that targeted or took place on a double-decker bus.
FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is according to eyewitness reports who say that in Central London this morning, in addition to these explosions we've been reporting in and around the Underground system, that there has been an explosion which ripped off the front of a double-decker bus in an area known as Tavistock Square in Central London.
Now, as you probably know, there have been a series of explosions. Let me recap what we do know. It is a very sketchy, generalized picture.
It began, this series of incidents, earlier this morning, nearly two hours ago now. At 8:50 this morning, the first explosion taking place at Aldgate Underground station, which is near the Liverpool Street station, a lot of chaos there. We hear of walking wounded. People being trapped underground for a while. And then just minutes after that, a second explosion taking place at Edgware Road, which is another Tube station to the west of Aldgate station, but generally in what is known as Central London.
Of course this city is home to eight, nine million people. And these explosions, beginning at 9:00 or so in the morning, is at the height of the morning rush hour as people commute into the city.
The Underground system carries hundreds of thousands of people in and out of the city to London, through the suburbs, through the areas surrounding London, in to work every single day. And so these incidents began at the height of the rush hour.
The British Transport Police saying they have been dealing with a major incident. And their initial reaction was to immediately shut down the entire Underground system. And it's been a very long time since that has happened. Even at the height of IRA activity in the '80s and '90s, any kind of explosion on the Underground would not necessarily warrant or result in the entire Underground system being carried to a halt.
But these are the latest reports we're getting at the moment. The emergency services of course here are well rehearsed in dealing with these kinds of activities. But it is becoming clear that some kind of coordinated activity has taken place in and around Central London this morning. Though I would hasten, Fredricka, it's probably a little too early to speculate on who or what might be behind this.
WHITFIELD: And, Fionnuala, beyond the obvious impact, the immediate impact of the victims in this explosion, let's talk about the scale of a calamity like this shutting down the entire rail system there for a city with residents, as you mentioned, up to eight million residents who primarily rely on the rail system, the Tube system in order to get to work, get to school, et cetera.
SWEENEY: Indeed. And also it should be borne in mind that a lot of people who work in London don't actually live in London and maybe commute as much as up to two hours a day through the various rail connections and then on to the Underground system once they reach the outskirts of London. And for this Underground system to be shut down in its entirety is really an indication of just how serious this incident is.
Interestingly, the national grid, the power system here in this country have said they did not notice anything unusual this morning. But it should be borne in mind that the Underground system has its own power supply.
Indeed we're hearing reports of buildings and offices in and around the areas where those explosions have been heard having had power surges in the last hour and a half. But certainly it cannot be underestimated the seriousness of an incident like this that shuts down the entire Tube system.
As we know, motor traffic here is a serious issue. The mayor of London for many years has been trying to cut down the amount of automobiles entering the center of London. He introduced a congestion charge just three years ago. And actually only recently raised the cost of that congestion charge, trying to get more people onto public transport, such as buses and of course the Underground system.
So this is an ongoing situation. Police cordoning off the immediate areas where these explosions have been reported, and then continuing to widen those cordons as more incidents are reported and they begin to carry out their investigations into what exactly has transpired in this city within the last two hours -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And, Fionnuala, we are seeing videotape, live pictures and some tape. What we're seeing, they are cordoning off areas. They're also setting up tents. Is it to be presumed that they're also having to set up sort of triage or any kind of medical treatment facilities under those tents, given that traffic and getting around is a major obstacle right now with so many presumed injured?
SWEENEY: Indeed. I'd say that would be a fair assumption, Fredricka. You know the emergency services here, as I've mentioned, have had a lot of experience in dealing with incidents in and around the City of London and terrorist attacks over the last 10, 20, 30 years or so. But particularly since 9/11, there has been a lot of emphasis on what would the emergency services do in the event of a major incident. And in fact,...
SWEENEY: ... as this press reports came through, many of us were reminded, Fredricka, of drama documentaries...
SWEENEY: ... and documentaries we've seen on television, followed by question-and-answer sessions on television about how the emergency services would cope. It would appear,...
WHITFIELD: OK, and, Fionnuala, let me just...
SWEENEY: ... at this early stage, that they are putting all these plans into action right now.
WHITFIELD: Let me just interrupt you for a moment, because we want to take Britain's ITN live broadcast right now on the air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... good to know that this sort of thing happens, but, yes, not great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eyewitnesses there in King's Cross in London this morning.
We can speak now to Christian Wormer (ph) who's a transport expert.
Thank you for speaking to us, Christian. From what you've seen, from the information that you are getting, what do you think we're looking at this morning?
CHRISTIAN WORMER, TRANSPORT EXPERT: Well, obviously we're looking at a coordinated terrorist attack. But I think what is really important to emphasize here is that they've clearly gone after causing maximum chaos and minimum kind of loss of life.
I mean you know if they had really wanted to, they could have done a Madrid-style bombing, if this is what's happened with bombs in kind of various places. They haven't gone for that. They have tried to cause absolute maximum disruption. And clearly they've managed to do that, closing down the whole Tube system. Presumably a lot of buses are now going to be taken off the road for searches and so on.
And I've just been through Central London myself, and it's a scene of utter chaos with kind of tens of thousands of people wandering around not quite knowing where to go, nobody able to get to work and that sort of thing.
WHITFIELD: All right, you've been watching a live broadcast of Britain's ITN. This breaking story under way, at least seven explosions, according to Scotland Yard there in London, at the height of rush hour.
Fionnuala Sweeney is in London.
And, Fionnuala, do you have some new updated information?
SWEENEY: Indeed. Just within the last few minutes, we are getting confirmation from the police that at least three explosions have taken place on buses in Central London. That's never mind the Underground system.
And as I think we heard there from our affiliate, ITN here in Britain, there has been a serious coordination of activity here in order to cause maximum chaos on the roads, but it would appear minimum casualties. And in fact, we are hearing merely reports of walking wounded at this stage in those Underground incidents that we have heard about.
Power surges continuing to take place in and around the very center of London in the vicinity of those explosions. Scotland Yard saying it's received reports of multiple explosions across London. It is very clear that the police here, the emergency authorities are dealing with very serious incidents. At least three reports now of explosions on buses in the center of the city coming to us from the police.
The emergency services cordoning off major areas in London. And I think it's fair to say that not just will the Underground system be closed down, but also the entire public service transport, and that will include buses.
This will be very sobering news, not just for the millions of people living in and around London, working in London, caught up in these incidents this morning, but also for the mayor of London, who is on route from Singapore back to this city, which only a matter of hours ago had been celebrating that triumphant victory in winning the bid for the Olympic Games. Of course transport had been a question raised by the Olympic authorities. And the Olympic bid team from London had managed to satisfy any concerns that they had had.
We understand that Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister who is at the G-8 Summit in Scotland, of course hosting this two-day meeting on climate change and aid to Africa, has been informed of what has transpired. He's being kept up-to-date minute-by-minute with what is taking place.
But I think now it is fairly obvious that within the last two hours there has been many major incidents taking place in and around Central London, both on the Underground system, which has now been shut down in its entirety. Reports of people wounded, walking wounded, and also those multiple explosions. We're hearing at least three on buses in and around the center of London. And we suspect it can only be a matter of time before those buses are taken off of the road...
SWEENEY: ... to be searched.
WHITFIELD: All right.
SWEENEY: So chaos in London this morning.
WHITFIELD: Indeed it is. Fionnuala, thank you so much, stand by for a moment.
We want to go to William Chamberlain who is on the telephone with us. He is an eyewitness.
William, where were you when these explosions took place?
WILLIAM CHAMBERLAIN, WITNESS: I actually was just moments away from the explosion of a double-decker bus here in Central London. I was actually on one of the buses when traffic became to an utter standstill. I refused to get off the bus and was then alerted to the fact that the course of a power surge on one of the Tube lines had shut down all of the Underground. About 10 minutes after that, there was a loud explosion.
I talked to one eyewitness who actually saw the wreckage of the bus where the top deck of a double-decker bus had been completely ripped off. And that it was just a smoldering wreckage and several major injuries.
I'm actually standing at that site right now. It was across from the Ambassador Hotel, near the center of London, right near King's Cross station, which is a hub of, you know, a bus, Underground and train operations.
WHITFIELD: Right, King's Cross being a station where a number of the transits coming from the airport make their way in to get into Central London.
Now you said you were on a double-decker bus as you heard the explosion of another double-decker bus ahead of you exploding?
CHAMBERLAIN: Well at that point I had actually gotten off the bus.
WHITFIELD: You got off the bus. CHAMBERLAIN: I was just to -- because we were not going anywhere at that point, I thought it would be quicker to walk. About -- I'm actually being forced to move back by the police right now. They are not -- I've talked to them, they are not confirming an explosion. They refuse to give any details. But there was such a loud explosion that all of the birds in the trees for quite some distance scattered to the skies. People in their buildings came out to inspect, to try to find out what was going on.
And we are sorry. We are being pushed back. They have closed off a number of London's major roads. This comes right in the middle of rush hour traffic. Traffic is slowly beginning to move again. People have been pushed back into side streets and crowds are beginning to dissipate, but there is still major confusion and major traffic here in the center of London.
WHITFIELD: And now, William, what about the activity or the effort to try to get to those injured? What are you seeing there?
CHAMBERLAIN: I'm seeing multiple police, ambulances, fire trucks all converging on my location at this point. It's actually quite difficult right now with the traffic. Buses were left in the street and abandoned just a while ago. They are now beginning to move again after that first explosion. They are cordoning off every major street around such areas, around King's Cross and all the other major Tube stations and train stations. They are trying to keep back the people away from these areas.
WHITFIELD: And, William, is this a route that you take often?
CHAMBERLAIN: It is. Actually, it is one of the major roads. Pentonville Road runs through pretty much the heart of London from west to east or east to west. And the traffic is never -- traffic is always bad in London, but it never got to get -- it was utter gridlock. So any explosion on the bus would have had major implications the fact that there were such crowds in the streets after the nightmare on the Tube. The Tube forced everyone out and cars were just back to back, bumper to bumper.
WHITFIELD: So ordinarily on a morning at 8:50 a.m. when these explosions took place, when you travel on this route, it is an area that is very congested with people ordinarily at morning rush hour?
CHAMBERLAIN: Correct, it's very high density. King's Cross, I will say, is the intersection of several Underground lines. It is the hub of major train operation. And they're actually continuing work right now to bring the Eurostar, which connects London with Paris and the rest of the continent, they're bringing that right into King's Cross. The construction has all stopped. The construction workers are also asked to evacuate the area.
WHITFIELD: So you said something very interesting that above ground it was very particularly crowded because people had heard about the explosions taking place underground, so people were finding their way to get around above ground. How -- at about what time did you hear about these explosions taking place in the Underground before you boarded a double-decker bus?
CHAMBERLAIN: Well I actually heard them after I exited the double-decker bus. Because of the traffic, I exited the bus.
I talked to my brother who actually works around Liverpool Street, which is the area of the explosive power surge. He alerted me to the power surge. And it wasn't until and that all Tubes have been closed. At that point, that's when the street and sidewalks became almost unmanageable with people (INAUDIBLE) the Underground system. About 10 minutes after that, amid all the confusion over the first power surge is when I heard a loud explosion.
WHITFIELD: And, William, a moment ago, while you and I were talking on the phone here, I could hear the sirens in the background. Describe the scene for us right now, what are you seeing in your immediate proximity?
CHAMBERLAIN: Right now we have a bit of chaos right now. People unsure of where to go. There are police lines, fire trucks all surrounding the Ambassador Hotel, which is where the explosive -- (INAUDIBLE) explosion of the double-decker bus took place. There are police trucks, cars, firefighters, ambulances. They are all trying to push people away from the scene. They're telling everyone to keep moving to evacuate to (INAUDIBLE) situation. And we are told to keep moving and move away from the area.
WHITFIELD: All right, William, if you could just hang on for a moment, we want to bring some tape real quick, tape that we just now got in of this most recent comment. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the house later on today to fully update the situation. And throughout all of this in the terrible situation that is there, we will be updating the public very directly at regular intervals with the most up-to-date information we have.
Thank you very much. That's all I've got for now. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. So, once again, let's just recap here. Conflicting reports as to how many explosions taking place. Bottom line, explosions taking place in the central district of London. Three explosions on buses and at least six explosions taking place in the Underground, shutting down nearly the entire public transportation system there in London. All this taking place one day after the city was jubilant to hear that they would be host of the Olympic Games in 2012.
Fionnuala Sweeney is joining us again in London.
Any new information coming to you -- Fionnuala?
SWEENEY: Yes. We are getting, I'm afraid to say, unconfirmed reports that these blasts in Central London has caused some fatalities. And it is thought that at least one of those fatalities could be linked to that bomb explosion near Russell Square in Tavistock Place. That report of an explosion about 15 minutes ago when the entire front of the bus and the top of this double-decker bus completely ripped off.
Now the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who arrived back from Singapore just over 24 hours ago, now at the Gleneagles Estate in Scotland where he's holding the G-8 Summit. He is expected, we understand, to come out of that summit, which is just about to get under way, and make a statement. He is being kept up to date with what is happening every single moment.
There are reports, as you can imagine, coming in by the second. We're getting reports of even a second blast being heard in London's Tavistock Square. We cannot confirm that independently as yet. And I think it's important to try and disseminate between what we know to be fact and also speculation.
But let's just recap, Fredricka, with what we do know. It was about, if I can just check, two hours ago exactly that the first explosion was heard on Aldgate Underground station in Central London. There were reports of walking wounded there. That is near Liverpool Street station, which is also a major railway station for bringing people in to London from various airports and also commuters from outside London.
Within minutes of that explosion, there were reports of another explosion taking place at Edgware Road station, which is also a major transit point for commuters coming in to the city.
WHITFIELD: And, Fionnuala, let me just interrupt here real quick, if I might please.
Richard Quest is on the telephone with us now. He is on the scene at the Aldgate east station, one of those Underground stations where an explosion took place.
Richard, what do you see? What are you hearing?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the moment what we're seeing, Fredricka, is obviously an extremely large police and security operation coming into effect. Roads around the London financial district are now being closed off. We've just had to run the best part of a mile from where we were stopped trying to get in.
When you get to Aldgate, I would say there are now several hundred people who are standing around outside the station being pushed further back by the police who have still not properly ascertained what took place. It's understood, but by no means confirmed, and there is an element of speculation about this that Aldgate east was one of the first places where the incident took place. It was here, it's believed, that the explosion took place.
Now what some people are suggesting is that what took place was effectively some sort of power surge and that might have been as a result -- and that might have been the cause of the explosions that people are now reporting.
That would then have caused power surges throughout the Underground, the Tube system, hence why we are hearing now reports of incidents at Edgware Road, which is further along the same lines, the same subway lines, and elsewhere, for example, as Fionnuala was saying, in Russell Square.
Helicopters, as one would imagine, are overhead. The police are now very securely and stopping people coming into the area until they are sure exactly what has taken place -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And, Richard, we're just getting information about Prime Minister Tony Blair who is hosting the G-8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. At the top of the hour, he will be making a public statement about the explosions that have taken place now in Central London. And apparently the mayor of London is making his way back now from Singapore -- Richard.
QUEST: Fredricka, I've just been given more information,...
QUEST: ... which, if you'll bear with me, I'll relay to you as I'm being told.
The Circle Line, which is one of the London subway lines that goes round the center, if you like, of London. The Circle Line between Liverpool Street and Aldgate, passengers on that train report seeing a flash, a big bang and the train stopped in the tunnel. And the passengers then, obviously, had to be taken from the train.
They were then -- they were taken to the back of the train where they were walked along the tunnels, back along the tunnels, which must have been an extremely frightening experience, before they were ushered into a local car park.
So a picture -- I mean it is a provisional picture, Fredricka. And speculation has to be tinged here that what has happened is some major incident on the London subway, possibly as a result of some form of power surge or some form of major electrical failure, which has, if you like, cascaded across the subway network and which has led to now a wholesale (ph) closure of the Tube, which is, of course, the main artery of London for moving several million people around every single day.
Witnesses have also told us that those people ushered out from the Tube stations into that car park had blood on their head. There were people on the floor and of people -- it is not clear yet, at least from where I'm standing at Aldgate, it is not clear whether people have lost their lives. So that pretty much is the situation at Aldgate east, which is believed to be one of the places where this incident began.
WHITFIELD: All right, incredible information. Richard Quest, thank you so much. Don't go too far away, we'll be going back to you momentarily. But, once again, if you're just now joining us, at least nine explosions, depending on which authorities you hear from. Three explosions taking place on buses in the center of the City of London, six explosions taking place in the Tube system underground, nearly paralyzing the entire public transportation system right now. We're talking to various people who have either witnessed or are now on the scene at these various locations.
A moment ago, we also heard from a series of witnesses. Let's listen to that tape right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on the Piccadilly Line this morning, leaving from King's Cross station. The train was very crowded. People were jammed in. We left the platform, started going underground. Approximately a few hundred feet into the Tube there was an explosion, a flash of light, everything went dark, the train ground to a halt. There was emergency lighting that came on.
People started screaming. And there was what appeared to be smoke or soot was everywhere, and it was all over our clothes and our hands. And we just had no idea what was going on. No...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened next?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well people started screaming. People felt very uncomfortable. So everyone just spent time with each other just trying to calm everyone down, and that seemed to go fairly well in our carriage. But in other carriages, you could hear people just getting very uncomfortable and some people grabbed the hammers, started smashing glasses trying to open the door.
And really just no one had any idea what was going on for 15 or 20 minutes. There was no word from the London Underground staff. There was clearly no electricity to be had, except for the emergency lighting. And so we were basically left to ourselves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what happened after that, you had 15 or 20 minutes and then what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then, well, people started getting hot, people started to get uncomfortable, people started sharing water. Everyone -- people were taking their -- you know taking their coats off to breathe through their coats, just trying to cut down on the amount of smoke and soot that was in the air. At which time some people started just trying to get off the train and walking, just trying to walk out of the platform.
And we were there for approximately another 5, 10 minutes and then London Underground staff came and said, you know, and took us off the train and walked us back up an auxiliary tunnel to take us out of the station back to King's Cross.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police were there saying the station had been closed and that a bomb had gone off. So we just walked away from the incident, basically. Nobody was being allowed through the station.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty chaotic. Police running down the roads was a scene I saw. But you know it's typical disorganization, which is scary the day after you win the Olympic bid, you know, that this sort of thing happens. But, yes, not great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Eyewitness accounts coming out of Central London there after early this morning, 8:50 London time, 3:50 a.m. Eastern Time, the height of rush hour in Central London, explosions take place, affecting the public transit system, shutting it down entirely. The Tube system is now at a stop, as well as the bus system, after at least six explosions are reported in the Underground, the Tube system, and three explosions taking place on the buses.
Richard Quest is at the Aldgate east station, which was one of the first stations that reported an explosion taking place.
And, Richard, what are you seeing right there now?
QUEST: Well the first thing one has to say is that the cellular phone network, the mobile network, has pretty much ground to a halt. The one thing that you notice of people sort of desperately trying to make cell phone calls to loved ones, to friends and relatives. A lucky few are getting through. But pretty much every five -- you know you had to try 10 times to make 1 call. So I'm actually filing this dispatch to you from a newsagent's shop just to the side of Aldgate east Tube station.
What we know so far, and from those who have been here, is that apparently it was around Aldgate east, somewhere between Aldgate and Liverpool Street, where this incident initially took place. It was at 8:45 in the morning London time, give or take. And the reports suggest that there was some form of explosion, which led to a flash.
Travelers, you just heard some eyewitness reports, travelers suggest that they saw a flash, they heard a bang and that the network came to a stop. Extremely frightening for those onboard the trains who then had to be led from the back of the trains, along the darkened tunnels and taken out.
Anybody who can picture in their mind the London subway map. If you think of -- you think of the circular nature of the London subway map. The stations we're talking about are on the right, top right of this network. They're in the heart of the financial district. Now, Fredricka, the question of course is was this explosion, was it a bomb or was it some form of device or was, as we are hearing here, some form of power surge? If it was a power surge that would seem to make a certain sense for the cascading effect of what's taken place.
WHITFIELD: All right. Richard, I hate to interrupt you there for a moment now. We need to now take our broadcast of CNN International. We have worldwide resources coming out of CNN International.
It'll be anchored by Monita Rajpal.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta.
On now to our continuing coverage of the explosions taking place in central London.
MONITA RAJPAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: ... within the London underground system is not as overt, but it doesn't mean it's not there.
M.J. GOHAL: True, Monita, that security has been pretty tight in London ever since the 9/11 atrocities in the USA. And the -- and British security services, Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard and performed magnificently since 9/11 in arresting a large number of potential suspects and thwarting many, many plots.
Quite recently, last year, a number of British Muslims were arrested and they had in their possession half a ton of ammonium nitrate. And there were many other informed arrests made, also. A man in Gloucestershire was arrested who was an associate of Sajib Hadad (ph).
So there have been a large number of attempts to perpetuate an atrocity in London and so far the police have been able to thwart every possible attack. This time, of course, an atrocity took place. And this really is a wake up call that even if the police are 99 percent successful, within that 1 percent failure rate, a major atrocity can take place, and that this is going to create enormous panic and terror within London because, obviously, it's going to disrupt the economy, it's going to disrupt the office life and people are going to be very frightened.
RAJPAL: All right, M.J., we thank you for that.
Our M.J. Gohal is a terrorist, an analyst, an expert.
We are -- if you are just joining us, we'd like to welcome those of you who are just joining us.
There have been multiple explosions that have taken place within the London underground system, some seven explosions at the very least, six within the underground system, one on a bus. A witness -- an eyewitness account has detailed an explosion that ripped through a bus that was traveling within central London. There are two other reports, unconfirmed reports, of explosions that have taken place within the -- within a bus in itself.
We are not aware of any casualty numbers at this time. What we do know is that people have been seen being brought out of the underground system, underground, or the subway stations on stretchers. People have been seen walking around in shock, understandably, and covered in blood.
CNN's Roger Clark is at the scene at one of the explosions, at Aldgate Station -- and, Roger, what are you seeing?
ROGER CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Looking forwards, carrying casualties between Aldgate Station and local hospitals. And within the last couple of minutes, I've just seen a fire brigade control vehicle arrive on the scene. Lots of police officers surrounding the area. There's a huge cordon been thrown around Aldgate Station.
People have been evacuated not just from the foot paths and from the roads, they've also been evacuated from shops and offices. In one bank I was in very close to Aldgate Station, while I was inside the bank making phone calls, that bank was evacuated, as well.
And I should also tell you that the mobile phone network in London is pretty much down. You can't make mobile phone calls. And the Internet is also proving, I understand, pretty difficult, as well.
I spoke to one chap a few minutes ago who was on board a Circle Line train, which was heading toward Aldgate Station when all of a sudden there was a huge explosion in the carriage, next to the carriage that he was traveling in. He said the whole train shook and then there was an enormous amount of smoke which just blew up through the entire train. People were screaming and crying and panicking and he saw people walking past him who were covered in blood.
People then managed to break their way out of the train, walk along the track to the station and then they were evacuated up onto the street.
I've seen a couple of people, two people, in fact, who had head wounds. They were bleeding and they were taken away by ambulance.
So, yes, a very serious situation here in London and with reports also of explosions at other underground stations and on buses. Clearly a very serious situation in London. And that's why Scotland Yard, which is the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, have designated this as a major incident.
RAJPAL: And, of course, the time that had started, it was at 8:50 in the morning, local time, major rush hour at this time.
Fionnuala Sweeney is just joining us now, as well.
The London underground system is one that is just so important to transportation and to Londoners in general. I mean thousands upon thousands travel every day, you and I included. FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is the main artery that beats through this huge city of London. As Monita was saying, the first reports of an explosion came at 8:49 this morning, at the height of the morning rush hour. That is just over two hours ago. And we can go to the scene of that first explosion, which Richard -- which is Aldgate Station, underground station, where Richard Quest is standing by -- Richard, what is happening there now?
QUEST: Well, the first thing to note, Fionnuala, is that the entire mobile phone network in London seems to have ground to a halt by the sheer weight of people making calls to tell relatives and loved ones that they are safe or where they are in the incident. Which is why I'm actually coming to you now from a news agent's shop next to Aldgate East tube station.
What we understand from those people we've spoken to here and around by is that there was some sort of bang, some sort of explosion. Those on trains on the underground at the time report seeing a flash and the trains came to a stop and those passengers then had to be led to safety.
Here above ground, as you can imagine, there was just simply an element of what is going on? Roads are being closed by the police, who frankly know absolutely no more than anybody else at the moment. They are -- the rumor mill of what is happening elsewhere in the capital is now starting to feed upon itself.
But, Fionnuala, the key question of whether or not this was a bomb explosion or some form of power surge, at Aldgate East, at least, is not clear.
What is actually happening there around Aldgate Station? The area, presumably, has been cordoned off.
Are there many people in and around there?
QUEST: It's a very odd combination. People are starting to come into the street to see what's happening as they hear the reports of what has taken place. But the police are slowly but surely cordoning off further states away from the station on the off chance that this is -- this is a bomb explosion and they do need to create a larger security. You see, if you take in mind this report of bus explosions in places like Russell Square and Tavistock Square and elsewhere in London, then they need to ensure that which is, around here, is secure.
And so I would say that the way things are progressing around Aldgate is one of carefully confused organization, if you like. This is the sort of thing the police have trained for and have got down to a fine art.
SWEENEY: All right, that's a good way of putting it there, Richard Quest.
He's at Aldgate Station.
Stand by there.
We just want to let you know that the British prime minister, Tony Blair, is, of course, hosting that major G8 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland, at which many world leaders are attending, including the U.S. president, George W. Bush.
We are told that Mr. Blair will come out and make a statement imminently. And, of course, when that happens, we will bring it to you.
It is, of course, only a day since Mr. Blair was very triumphant over London's win in its Olympic bid, to host the games in 2012. Ironically, transport had been one of the issues that concerned IOC members, but it had been deemed that the Olympic Committee from London had satisfied those concerns. Here we are 24 hours later dealing with a major series of incidents in and around central London.
According to the Press Association, and I have to say it is a sketchy picture at the moment, ministers are having emergency meetings. There are reports, according to one policeman, of a number of fatalities, a number of people who have been seriously injured. We are continuing to update the picture as we get it.
But just a very quick recap. There have been explosions on a number of underground stations in London. The entire subway system has been shut down. Reports of some casualties and perhaps a number of fatalities, as well. And we understand explosions on one, if not more, buses in and around central London.
Public transport severely hit this morning -- Monita.
RAJPAL: Well, Fionnuala, as you were saying, this comes just one day after it was announced that London was going to host the 2012 Olympic Games. And, of course, this happens as the G8 is meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland. Tony Blair is the host.
We are waiting for word from him. He is expected to make an announcement or hold a news conference shortly.
We want to go now to M.J. Gohal, a terrorism analyst and expert.
And, M.J., if we look at those two events that have taken place within the, you know, couple of days, specifically, the G8 and the announcement of the Olympic Games in 2012, London being the winner, is timing also in question here?
M.J. GOHAL: I think, Monita. Definitely. We had advance notice of the G8 summit taking place. So naturally the terrorists would have had enough time to plan. But as I was saying earlier, we have to be cautious about pointing the finger of blame because there are people -- there are protesters who have been demonstrating against the G8 summit and the attack may not be al Qaeda linked.
However, the simultaneous nature of it and the fact that the attack was so coordinated, of course, points the finger toward al Qaeda or one of the other associated groups within the global Jihad movement.
RAJPAL: The London police, they are -- Scotland Yard -- they are well trained in situations like this. They've had to deal with this in the past few decades.
How is, I guess the question would be how could something like this have happened in a system where -- that has, you know, big brother watching all time? You've got cameras pretty much everywhere.
GOHAL: This is true, Monita, that British security services have had excellent experience because of the IRA problems, Irish problems in the past.
However, the trouble is that in a large capital city like London, it's almost impossible to protect everyone and every building, every train. They're dealing here with millions of people. To try and bring sort of a lot of protection would mean disrupting life. And the difference between the IRA and these other attacks is that the IRA often, not always, but often used to give a warning of a an impending attack. And the police were able to cordon off areas and ask people to leave the area where an explosion could take place.
Whereas with this instance, of course, there was no warning given whatsoever. The aim was to perpetuate a mass casualty atrocity, to create enormous panic and terror and to disrupt life and to damage the economy of the country.
Now, these are the hallmarks, the fingerprints, of an al Qaeda- linked group. But it is a bit early to say so with any certainty.
M.J. Gohal, we appreciate you giving us your analysis.
GOHAL: Thank you.
RAJPAL: M.J. Gohal is a terrorism analyst and expert.
And, as he was saying, it is still too early to pinpoint exactly what was the cause of these multiple explosions. What we do, if you are just joining us, we'd like to bring you up to date, that at approximately 8:50 a.m. London time, at the height of rush hour, police are calling it a major incident that took place within the London underground system. About seven explosions took place within the Edgware Road Station, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Russell Square, Aldgate East, Margate, as well as explosions that have taken place on buses that were traveling in central London.
There's a confirmation of at least one explosion, an eyewitness account of an explosion on one bus in central London. There are reports of two others.
Casualties are, one can assume and have been reported, that there are numerous. We don't know the extent of the casualties. We are seeing, our reporters on the ground are seeing people being brought out on stretchers.
The area around central London and the tube stations, as we are noticing and according to police officers, they are coming -- they are -- they have cordoned off the area.
We are going to go now live to a police spokesman.
I understand that we are seeing a statement that's being made right now.
Let's take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's about all I can say at the moment.
RAJPAL: All right, there we leave it.
We joined that statement...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... have been and this may be confirmation of some of the messages we've been putting out for some time. But at the moment, it's too early to judge. And what we really do need is calm, and, if I may say so, as little speculation by the media as possible, because none of us know quite what's happened, though a picture is slowly emerging.
And with that, I'm afraid I'll have to go on to some other outlets.
Thanks very much.
RAJPAL: All right, there you have been listening to a Metropolitan Police spokesman there speaking to our affiliate network here in London ITN. So we were unable to hear the questions but appealing for calm among Londoners and cautioning against any kind of wild speculation as to what may lie behind these series of incidents.
If you're just joining us, a series of incidents over the last two hours or so. Several explosions on London's underground subway. Reports of casualties, also reports of at least two explosions on buses and also we hear of perhaps a number of deaths on at least one of those explosions on a bus in central London.
And now that we are hearing, also, from the authorities that not only has the entire underground system been shut down, but also now the entire bus system, public bus transport system.
Let's hear from some eyewitnesses who were in and around these incidents this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really don't want to talk to her again. I'm sorry. But I don't have a great recollection of it. What I do have I've told him, so maybe he'll be generous enough to tell you.
QUESTION: But it was just a big bang, essentially? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. What caused it, I have no idea.
QUESTION: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mostly we've heard subsequently what it probably is, but you couldn't tell that immediately from being on there.
QUESTION: And what have you seen down there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in the front carriage and people were severely injured there. But I've heard -- and I don't know if it's right -- that people were even worse further back.
QUESTION: And this is inside Russell Square Station was it? Or further on the line?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it was in the tunnel between Kings Cross and Russell Square.
QUESTION: And how would you describe the reaction of people in the trains? What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very mixed. Some people were very calm. Others were very panicky. And, you know, that's about all I can tell you right now.
QUESTION: Can you describe the moment that it happened?
SWEENEY: One eyewitness there speaking to us about his experience there on the underground system this morning.
Let's just inform you that we're hearing from Downing Street that Prime Minister Blair is going to make a -- take a live televised statement about what has occurred in London this morning in about 45 minutes from now. He, of course, is at Gleneagles in Scotland, where he's hosting the G8 summit. He went there yesterday morning. He will make a live televised statement on the explosions which are taking place, have taken place in and around London.
It is a very confused scene here. There are reports coming in all the time. The police authorities cautioning against wild speculation.
Let's go now to the scene of the very first reports of any explosions here, and that was, of course, Aldgate Station, which is one of the underground stations here in London.
We did have a reporter there on the scene, but I must say that it is very difficult to actually get people on mobile phone lines this morning because thousands of people are using their phones. They are trying to contact each other, contact relatives and communicate to them what has happened, that they're safe and well.
But let's go to Richard Quest, who is, I understand, in and around Aldgate Station, which was the scene of that first explosion -- Richard.
QUEST: Yes, indeed.
I'm just standing over the road from Aldgate East. And you talked about the bus network also being stopped, and that's exactly what we're seeing now in front of me. Five minutes ago, a big red London bus pulled up and discharged its passengers. And essentially now, all buses around the capital have come to a stop.
The road that I am on, which is near or over the road from Aldgate East, that has now been closed. And what the police are -- in case this is a case of bomb explosions, the police are now fearful, so they are starting to widen the cordon of roads that they are closing. And they are starting to absolutely try and secure as much of the place as possible.
You talked about the phone networks going down. And what we are now starting to experience is not only the mobile phone network, which has ground to a halt, Fionnuala, but now even land lines. Just getting a phone call through, this is entirely to be expected.
In terms of whether or not we know any more, where these bomb explosions or power surges, that, I'm afraid to say, Fionnuala, I can't help you with at the moment.
SWEENEY: All right, Richard, bear with us for the moment.
You're looking at pictures, live pictures of the chaos in London this morning. These are CCTV cameras, closed circuit television cameras. And London is surrounded with them. In fact, they say there's one for every 20 or 30 people in the city. Reports coming into us now of two deaths confirmed in the explosions this morning and also as many as 90 casualties.
The first confirmation of the toll that these incidents have wrought in the city of London this morning. Two deaths, 90 casualties.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, saying there have been at least six explosions. The picture is very confused. He's asking the media not to speculate, but he says the picture is beginning to become clearer.
The entire subway system has been evacuated and shut down. London's bus service has also been shut down. That because of at least two explosions on buses, one of which we believe caused at least one of these deaths.
So the entire transit system, the underground, which is the artery through which commuters move in and around this city, in many ways the nerve center of this city, entirely at a halt in just two- and-a-half hours since that first explosion occurred near Aldgate Station, underground station.
Initially, the first reports indicated that it might have been some kind of power outage. But the National Grid, which looks after the country's power supply, saying there had been no problems this morning. And now a picture beginning to emerge of a series of coordinated attacks in and around the center of London. Reports of explosions at Edgware Road, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Russell Square, Aldgate East and Margate. These are all stations and centers of London that would be well known to commuters and anyone living in and around the city.
The prime minister, Tony Blair, due to make a statement at midday. That is 40 minutes from now London time. He will make that live televised statement from Gleneagles in Scotland, where he is holding the G8 summit of leaders.
Indeed, world leaders continuing to arrive there this morning. Downing Street denying reports that he will leave Gleneagles to come and return to London. But it's early days yet, as the police try to grapple with what is taking place in and around this city.
Communications extremely difficult, as Richard Quest was reporting. Phone lines going down, not just the mbps, but also land lines, also making it difficult for people to get through to each other in this city, making it difficult for us, also, to report exactly what is happening around here, because, as you can imagine, traffic chaos. There's no way of getting on the underground. There's no way of getting over land. No public bus service. People are trying to get around on scooters as traffic comes to a standstill. The phone lines are going down.
But we are trying to build a picture out of what is a very confused situation happening in this city this morning -- Monita.
RAJPAL: And Fionnuala, if you can -- if you could try to paint a picture, too, in terms of where the explosions took place. The London underground system is like this spider web of lines, multiple lines that travel into and outside of central London. All these lines have come to a standstill right now. Thousands upon thousands of people travel on the London subway system every day. And for most people, it is the only means of transportation and for it to have happened at 8:50 a.m. local time, at the height of rush hour, of course, a lot of -- there is a high sense of confusion right now.
We have Raj Mattu (ph) on the phone. He is an eyewitness to what had happened this morning.
Raj, where were you and what did you see?
RAJ MATTU: I was actually about 300 yards away from the bus, just outside Tavistock Square, Tavistock Gardens, when it exploded. So I was on the top deck of a number 91 bus, sitting at the front seat. I had just come from Hoben Station (ph), which had been evacuated about 20, 25 minutes before.
Traveling up toward Kings Cross on the number 91 bus, I -- the bus had stopped at traffic lights just outside the Tavistock Hotel. I saw lots of commotion outside anyway. There were police all over the place, flashing blue lights. So I knew something was going on in London. Just looking around, I was staring at the bus in front, which was coming toward us. I don't know what -- which bus it was. And then as I was looking at it, it exploded. The top rear section of the bus exploded, ripping the whole of the roof off.
The roof was pushed into the air about 10 meters above the bus. And then it floated down like a leaf. There was smoke all over the place.
RAJPAL: And, Raj, as you were saying, of course, this happened early morning or 8:50 in the morning rush hour. One would assume that that bus that you saw exploded was crowded.
MATTU: The bus was crowded, yes. The bus I was on was crowded surely because the Piccadilly line had been -- there were reports that the Piccadilly line had suffered a power loss. So people were being asked to seek alternative routes. And then Hoben Station (ph) was completely evacuated. So there were people all over the place.
Whether that bus going toward Hoben was completely packed, I'm not sure. But after the explosion, I did see people on the top deck. There were people moving around. If there was anybody sitting at the rear of the bus on the top deck or even at the lower deck, I expect they probably would have been hurt quite seriously.
RAJPAL: Raj, describe for us again where this bus was and where you were, where your bus was in relation to that explosion.
MATTU: Right. The bus I was traveling on is the number 91 bus. We had just come from Hoben (ph) up toward Tavistock. And it was standing at the traffic light just outside Tavistock Hotel. The other bus, the one that did explode, was about 300 yards opposite, coming toward us. So it was going toward Hoben.
RAJPAL: All right, Raj Mattu, an eyewitness to an explosion that ripped through a bus that was traveling within central London. One confirmed explosion on a bus. There are two unconfirmed reports of explosions that took place on buses in central London.
Again, there were six other explosions that took place at six other tube stations, or underground stations, subway stations within the central London area. These are stations that, I can imagine it, picture it, that they circle around central London and part of the financial district, as well, also known as The City.
Reuters is saying some 90 casualties are being reported. The Associated Press is reporting two deaths and Fionnuala.
Now, one of those stations, major stations at which there was an explosion this morning was the Kings Cross Station.
Live now to a live reporter on the scene there, reporting what they have been experiencing over the last two hours or so.
CHRIS CHOI: ... procedure. Just a few minutes ago, closer to Russell Square tube station, I saw...
SWEENEY: And it's Thorogate (ph).
CHOI: ... some dozens of medics heading off down the underground, carrying oxygen. They had stretchers. They had trolleys. They were even carrying what looked like medical supplies, bandages in supermarket carrier bags. They've obviously just swept all routine aside and gone down there to help the injured.
And certainly from what's been seen here, there have been people covered in blood, bruises, wrapped in blankets and taken off to some of these nearby hospitals.
That's all coming from Russell Square tube station.
I spoke to one of the people that was in the carriages. He says that they were traveling along from Kings Cross to Russell Square. Before they reached Russell Square station itself, there was an explosion. It happened, as far as he could make out, in the adjoining carriage from where he was. He talks of heat and smoke and people screaming. He said he saw some appalling injuries.
They managed to get out of the tube train, even though it wasn't at the station, and walk along the track, emerging here at Russell Square. He spoke about people without limbs being helped as he left the train. So, clearly, the most appalling scenes there.
And just now, in the last few minutes, we've seen more police officers arrive, sniffer dogs. They're clearing a wider and wider parameter around these incidents.
That's all here in Russell Square. And you can see the tube station behind me. Just behind the building there on Robin Place, there are two stationery red London buses now. The one that's furthest away is the one I understand was the subject to the explosion. I spoke to somebody who was on the preceding bus who saw it all. Again, he described the scene as chaotic, smoke, a large bang, broken windows, people scrambling out of the bus as quickly as they can.
And if can imagine these two confusing, appalling injuries all happening in such a tight location, add it with all the regular chaos of London, the commuters, the tourists.
Mbps aren't working at the moment. I met one or two relatives who were waiting for people at Russell Square tube station in tears, no information, not knowing where to go, not knowing what happened. Clearly, just wandering around, trying to find their loved ones, trying to find any kind of information.
It's clear that this has been a devastating series of incidents. It's not yet clear the detail and how the people who are directly involved or who have loved ones involved, how they should go about getting the information they so badly need right at the moment.
SWEENEY: Chris Choi? CHOI: Yes.
SWEENEY: I'm wondering if you can hear me?
Chris, this is Fionnuala Sweeney in London.
Thank you for joining us.
Bear with us for the moment. This is a very confusing picture emerging here in London, as everybody tries to establish communications, not least of all...
CHOI: That is correct.
SWEENEY: ... us here at CNN.
CHOI: Very, very close by.
SWEENEY: That was Chris Choi of ITN at Aldgate Station, describing a very confused scene there.
Let's go straight away to our reporter, William Chamberlain, who's down at Kings Cross Station, which is another one of those major stations that bring people into London and which had experienced an explosion earlier this morning -- William.
WILLIAM CHAMBERLAIN: Yes, Fionnuala, I have confirmation from the police, who have finally said that there has been an explosion on the bus. He said the bus has been ripped open "like a tin can." He refused -- he did decline to sort of give a count of how many bodies there were, but he said there were multiple casualties and multiple bodies strewn about the vicinity.
SWEENEY: All right, William, we're just going to leave it there for the moment...
CHAMBERLAIN: All right.
SWEENEY: ... because we want to bring you back to Chris Choi of ITN, that affiliate reporter of that network with which we're associated.
SWEENEY: We can't hear the questions he's being asked by the London interviewer, but we can certainly hear what he has to say as he reports there from Aldgate Station in London.
Chris looking as confused as anyone can down there in the middle of all of that, as he stands by and waits for his network to come to him.
Let me bring you up to date.
A confused picture in London. A series of explosions on the London underground. Two fatalities reported, 90 people reported injured. Also, a number of explosions on London buses. The entire subway system shut down. The entire bus system shut down.
The prime minister, Tony Blair, due to make a live televised address in 30 minutes from Gleneagles in Scotland, where he's hosting the G8 summit.
Communications are very difficult at this moment. Mbps in central London have gone down due to the weight of people calling. All the networks are jammed. Now, some of the network services saying they're beginning to try and dedicate part of their services exclusively to the emergency services. That as our Richard Quest was reporting a few minutes ago, even land lines are now beginning to go down.
This, as the successful Olympic bid winning team fly back to London from Singapore. Word coming in to us that the celebrations scheduled to mark the homecoming of that team have clearly now been canceled, following what is being described increasingly this morning as terrorist blasts in the capital.
Interesting to note that it was just this time yesterday that 10,000 people were packed into Trafalgar Square in Central London awaiting word of that announcement from Singapore. No incidents there.
One terrorism expert this morning describing what has taken place here in London as a series of incidents designed to cause maximum chaos but minimum casualties; that, considering that we had as many as 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square yesterday with absolutely no security whatsoever.
MONITA RAJPAL, CNN ANCHOR: I was near Trafalgar Square yesterday myself. And, of course, if you understand London in itself, it's a very busy, busy city. Anytime of the year, there's going to be a lot of people, a lot of tourists and, again, lots of people coming in, a lot of commuters that are coming into Central London to work.
There is still no confirmation as to what caused these explosions. However, Reuters is reporting that the European Union commissioner for Justice and Security Affairs said the blasts that hit London's underground and bus services on Thursday were terrorist attacks. Again, this is according to Reuters that is quoting the EU commissioner for Justice and Security Affairs.
Now, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, is again saying that no one should be jumping to any conclusions. And that the picture is still very confused. He spoke to the media earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIR IAN BLAIR, METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: On a very high level of alert and always have been. And this may be confirmation of some of the messages we've been putting out for some time. But at the moment, it's too early to judge. And what we really do need is calm and, if I may say so, as little speculation by the media as possible, because none of us know quite what's happened. There are pictures slowly emerging. And with that, I'm afraid I'll have to go on to some other outlets. Thanks very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJPAL: Sir Ian Blair. He is London's Metropolitan Police commissioner, who was speaking to the media earlier, again, telling everyone to stay calm. And, of course, a very confusing picture at this time.
To bring you up to date, at 8:50 a.m. London time, several explosions were reported right across London. These were explosions that took place within London's subway system, as well as on a bus in Central London. Those subway stations were Edgware Road Station, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Russell Square, Aldgate East, Margate, as well as on a bus that was traveling in and around Central London.
One police officer is reporting and quoted as saying that the explosions looked like it ripped open the bus like a -- quote/unquote -- "tin can."
There are reports of two confirmed deaths. That's according to the Associated Press. And Reuters is reporting some 90 casualties. We're seeing pictures again of people being brought out of these subway stations with lots of injuries again.
Well, Jim Boulden is joining us now, and he is at the Aldgate Station, the scene of one of the explosions.
Jim, what are you seeing?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Monita, I've seen something I have not seen in the 15 years I've lived in London. I have seen soldiers on the roof of a building. It is called the PNO Medloid (ph) Building. It has been evacuated. It's just across from the Aldgate East Tube Station. And on top of the building I saw six men in military garb, in camouflage. They're on top of the building, and I can see at least one of them has binoculars. They were looking around.
It is one of the taller buildings in this part of the east, of the Financial District in the city of London.
When we pointed our cameras to them, they did disappear. I have not seen them come back again. But there are local news reports that there is other army on the streets of London. I have to say I have not seen that before.
We've also seen the buses being evacuated. We've seen the police going through the buses before they let people back on. They're still trying to evacuate people from this area. So, I've seen them going up and down in the buses, looking for any possible suspect packages. Then, they're getting people on to that bus.
Now, Monita, I've come into a pub now, because, as you said earlier, there is no way to get through on the mobile phone system, on the cell phone system. The pubs are beginning to fill up, but I have to say people are not drinking. They are watching the television. They're very concerned. Many people cannot get back to their buildings. Obviously, they can't leave London unless they go by foot. They cannot go back to their offices.
They have widened the cordon. The police have asked us to move back further and further. The last 20 minutes or so they were pushing us back from the Aldgate East Station. We were able to get a bit closer.
And it is eerily quiet in some parts. People -- there are no buses driving around. People walking in the streets. I have to say, people are quite calm at the moment, but they are very concerned about what's going on. And that's why at this moment the pub, at least that I'm in, is filling up with people, and they're all just staring at the television -- Monita.
RAJPAL: Jim, again, put it in perspective. You're saying it is eerily quiet in London, which is something London does not really experience. Of course, even in the early hours of the morning it's not very quiet. It's a very busy city. It's almost like New York. It's a city that never sleeps.
In terms of where you are, put that in perspective on where you are within Central London and at a time on a normal day, which would be very, very busy.
BOULDEN: This reminds me of a Sunday, Monita. It reminds me of a Sunday, because on Sunday you'll see tourists walking around. You'll see less buses. You'll see less drivers of taxis. And a lot of people walking. Obviously, they're walking everywhere because they can't do anything else. And because I'm near the police cordon, people aren't coming in this direction.
And I'm looking out the window now. I do not see a single car, even though the road in front of me is actually open. There's just a lot of quiet.
Now, of course, occasionally you get the piercing sound of the police siren. We see ambulances still coming and going, a lot of fire trucks still going up and down the road.
I've also seen a number of tourists and kids from school who are on tour groups. And they seem to be continuing on those tour groups, at least at this moment. They're walking around obviously bewildered, wondering what's going on. And, of course, if they come into a pub or if they ask anybody, they'll find out what's happened today.
RAJPAL: And Aldgate Station, that's near the Financial District as well. Most of the stations that we also saw that experienced these explosions. Again, these explosions, we don't know what the cause is. All of these explosions, they surround what's known as "the city."
BOULDEN: Yes. This is right on the edge of the city of London. The city of London is a square mile. It is the old original city of London. It is where the Financial District is. It's where all of the money is made here. And what we're seeing is that people are not able to either get into their buildings, or if they left, they were not able to get back, or they're not able to get out of their buildings in some instances.
These Tube stops, all of these Tube stops you've talked about, it really is the heart of the city. Liverpool Street Station is one of the busiest. It's also the oldest Tube line, one of the oldest Tube lines, the Metropolitan line for some of these areas.
And so, we're talking about, you know, a very well-established part of the city of London. And what you're seeing now is a lot of people just not able to do their work. Obviously either they can't, or they're just staring at the television.
RAJPAL: All right, Jim, we thank you. CNN's Jim Boulden reporting to us there from near Aldgate Station. Of course, he's reporting it's eerily quiet in an area that is traditionally and normally very, very busy, especially at this time of the day. It is in the heart of the city, the Financial District as well. It's the scene of one of numerous explosions that took place around London this day, this Thursday.
There were reports of an explosion that took place on a bus in Central London. Reports of two other explosions that took place on buses in Central London. A very busy day. It happened at the height of rush hour at 8:50 a.m. local time.
Of course, what Jim was also reporting is there's a lot of confusion, a lot of bewilderment from the people that he did see in and around the area.
Here is earlier an account of some of the eyewitnesses that saw what had happened earlier this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was an explosion. Did you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what they were saying. They're saying it was an explosion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did it feel like for you in the building?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, the building, the building, you physically felt it shake up. Like a car hit the building, that's what I thought. I thought like a car had maybe hit the side the building. So that was my initial guess. And then we all saw the -- maybe it's just, you know, it could be whatever. Maybe it's a gas line or something. And then we looked outside the building, and we saw the smoke. It was like there was something serious that happened at the station.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And from your estimation, something very serious happened. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It did seem to be an explosion. The police officers who were there were saying it was an electrical explosion. That was their initial theory. But then we've been hearing other reports. So, maybe it was something even more serious than that. I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. In terms of you said that you saw people...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJPAL: Of course, eyewitness reports are coming in all the time now. Let's just bring you up to date.
The entire Tube system has been shut down in this city; also the entire public service system.
Let's listen in to a live interview now from ITN with an eyewitness.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was pitch black, and the emergency lights came on. And more and more smoke started coming into the carriage. And we were there for something like 20 to 30 minutes, during which the smoke intensified. The screaming intensified. The hysteria, and that's what it was, became almost -- to say, pandemonium.
And then, eventually somebody said -- well, someone at the back of the carriage, because I was on the second to the back carriage, had managed to force the door open. But they wouldn't get out, because they thought they were going to be electrocuted by the live train lines.
Then smoke was coming down the tunnel. Nobody would go out an exit. No one would go out the other exit, because, as I understand it, there's a bomb in the middle of the carriage. So, we were all trapped like sardines, waiting to die. And I honestly thought my time was up, as did everyone else.
And finally, after about 30 minutes or so, people started to leave the carriage, and to their credit in a very controlled manner. But as I exited, I saw people's belongings scattered all over the place. People were physically injured. And the carriage and windows were all smashed. There were no emergency people on hand to escort anyone off the train, save for two officers who had arrived 30 minutes or so.
But the question I ask is why was the train allowed to proceed from Manor House when they knew or must have known these things were going on? And it's almost negligent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you see of the medical operation that's unfolding down there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was none at first, because everyone said it was technical fire, and it wasn't. And there was just mass communication failure. And given what's passed before in Madrid, I'm really at a loss to say why this was. (INAUDIBLE) from people who were exiting what had happened. There were emergency services there, but I think in hindsight which was a great factor that things could have been done a lot better perhaps. But I can't say really anymore than that, except, you know, I'm just -- I'm shocked myself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're shocked. I can see that your skin has been discolored by the blackness of the smoke and your lips. In some respects, a lucky escape. What about the others that you saw?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The others I saw were physical injuries and some had marks to the face where the carriage windows had punched the skin. And others physically lying on the floor, because they basically suffered smoke inhalation. And others in the main carriages are, I understand, severely injured, if not dead.
So at the end of the day, I honestly thought I was going to die. I'm just grateful to be alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is looking increasingly as though this was a concerted terror attack. What do you think about the people behind this having lived through this nightmare yourself today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as a barrister, all I can say is now I'll wait for the evidence before I can make any or jump to any conclusions as to who it may be. But all I can say is, you know, whoever is responsible for it, I take pity on you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pity?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, pity, because whoever has perpetrated such a wicked act, you know, needs pity, really. That's all I have to say on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Power (ph), thank you very much indeed. I must let you go now, clearly in shock and needing attention. That's Angelo Power (ph), who was actually, as you heard, found on the underground, traveling towards Russell Square, has managed to get out and managed to tell his story, but also involved in that story a tale of many who won't be able to talk today. He's talking about some appalling injuries that he'd seen down there.
And certainly, as we've been witnessing the various medical teams from nearby medical facilities, rushing down this road, down Bernard Street, down to Russell Square Tube Station, there clearly is still a very large-scale unfolding medical alerts going on down there. We've seen some people removed on stretchers looking very badly injured under blankets.
I understand that a nearby (AUDIO GAP)...
SWEENEY: We have lost our link there with our affiliate network, ITN, conducting a live interview with a very distraught passenger, who -- I'm quoting here -- said, "We were packed like sardines, waiting to die," describing his experience there on the underground this morning. Now, the reports are two people, at least, are confirmed dead. We understand they are at Aldgate Station. Ninety people injured in a series of explosions in and around the capital this morning, the center of the city. A number of explosions on buses.
The British prime minister, Tony Blair, is scheduled to speak in about 15 minutes from now. Downing Street is saying he will not return to London. He is at Gleneagles in Scotland hosting the G8 summit, which is just getting under way. He will make a statement in 15 minutes' time.
In the meantime, the underground system here is completely shut down. The public bus service has also been shut down. Mobile phone communications are all but gone. And also land lines, it would appear, there are difficulties there as well -- Monita.
RAJPAL: Fionnuala, we're also hearing reports that just shortly after the explosions had taken place, antiterrorist police officers were at the scene. Jim Boulden was reporting that he had seen I guess officers in military fatigues were at the scene as well on roofs of buildings.
Buckingham Palace is reported to have been sealed off. Police armed with machine guns and army personnel were reported to be seen within the Buckingham Palace area. The queen is on her way back from Scotland after attending the opening -- I guess, the opening dinner of the G8 summit.
Christiane Amanpour is reporting to us now. She joins us now live from Central London.
Christiane, where are you, and what are you seeing?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Central London, not far from the office, in fact, Monita. But what I've seen on my way into the office, which, as you can imagine, was difficult, because as you mentioned all of these explosions have brought London transport to a grinding halt, and there are huge amounts of traffic on the road, also a lot of police, sectioning off many parts of the road from Central London -- or, rather, from West London to here in Central London.
Obviously, the American embassy, which is not far from here, the roads around it have been completely blocked off, and nobody is allowed to even walk past that area.
There are other areas where I've seen police cars in other high streets, stopping passengers, stopping cars going along, and in some cases checking the insides of cars.
People, as you say, are unable to use their phones. I've seen obviously people all over the place trying to find out what's going on, trying to use the phone. It is not possible. Land lines are also very difficult.
The chief of London police has said that he fears that those six explosions, which they have confirmed, were coordinated. And, of course, we wait to see who they believe has conducted this attack.
London, of course, is the latest of these major cities to have received these kinds of explosions. And as we wait to see exactly who will be fingered as the potential suspects, we remember that just last year being in Madrid, and we've seen these kinds of attacks around. But at the moment, still not sure exactly what the perpetrator or who the perpetrators were.
Back to you.
RAJPAL: And, Christiane, of course, London, as we were saying before, is no stranger to terrorist attacks. Again, we have to preface that by saying we don't know what caused these explosions. But they are CCTV cameras pretty much on every corner of the city. There is security within the underground system as well. People are quite vigilant, being asked to notice if there are any suspicious packages around. So, again, there is a level of preparedness, but no one can really prepare for something like this.
AMANPOUR: Well, clearly it's happened, and therefore it's -- you know, it's gotten through whatever security there has been. But, of course, London is one of the major capitals in the world, which has had a high antiterrorist alert for many, many decades now, mostly because of the Northern Ireland problem. And London and other British cities have been somewhat used to and somewhat braced to these kinds of things during the height of those troubles.
The police, the antiterrorist forces, the security forces are fairly acquainted with these kinds of incidents. And, of course, they've been rapidly deployed. I mean, even as far as West London from where I was coming in this morning, you could see police screeching through the streets, sirens blaring. You could see ambulances. I mean, what it looked like was these security and health and medical emergency teams coming from wherever they could come and coming through to where they're most needed.
And we've been told by the police, there are six incidents at the moment, including on the well-known London underground stations.
RAJPAL: And the timing, of course, Christiane, we were just talking about, this is just one day after it was announced that London will be hosting the 2012 Olympics. It was a very crowded Trafalgar Square that we saw there. And, of course, the G8 summit is taking place right now in Scotland.
AMANPOUR: That's exactly right. I mean, the timing is incredible. It's probably a little bit too early to jump to those kinds of conclusions, particularly about Olympics, because according to antiterrorists and people who are experts on this issue, they believe that people need more time to plan.
Of course, we simply don't know what this is, but the notion that it might have been because of the Olympics, many of the experts that I've talked to in other incidents before are reluctant to say that something could happen so quickly after such an announcement. But maybe it was planned. Maybe it was, and we simply don't know that. RAJPAL: And, Christiane, we were talking to Jim Boulden earlier. He is at Aldgate Station. He was saying it's eerily quiet where he is. Of course, that is the scene of one of these explosions that took place. You are near the office in Central London. What's the scene like there?
AMANPOUR: Well, there is still traffic in the areas where the traffic hasn't been blocked off. People are still walking around. There does not seem by any means to be any kind of panic in this area or further west.
But you can see that in some of the streets where the police have come and cordoned them off obviously there's nobody there. And it's very empty in many of those streets.
But there are still black cabs, although none with their lights on, because everybody is jumping in them. It's the only public transport that's really available at the moment.
People are -- those who are on their bikes are able to move around.
But as I say, in some of the cordoned-off streets, some of those with the police tape across them, not even pedestrians are being allowed to go through.
And I asked about the American embassy, and the police would not obviously confirm what they were doing. But it's just obvious that the whole place is cordoned off. But they've said they're just making some checks as would be normal under such a circumstance.
RAJPAL: When we look at the location of these explosions, they took place on subway stations that pretty much ring around the center of London, and specifically the Financial District in itself, what's known as "the city."
Let's talk a little bit about the impact this is having on a city that is just -- it's normally on a normal day very vibrant. And an attack on a subway station, on any subway station is pretty much going to bring the city -- and it has -- to a standstill.
AMANPOUR: Potentially. Being that I'm not actually down there, I don't exactly know what it's done to the Financial District. And I'm not sure about the news coming out of there right now. But the police chief has asked people to stay as much as possible where they are and not to move from where they are, at least a spokesman is quoted as saying that.
Presumably whatever business can take place is taking place. But when we talk about networks that are down, telecommunications networks that are overloaded, and therefore at the moment we can't use them. And we're a news organization, and we are having a lot of difficulty with cell phones and even land lines. That kind of financial businesses is jeopardized right now.
But people, you know, who went to work and who managed to get to work, for the most part, are there. We haven't seen any signs of mass evacuations, certainly none in this part. We haven't heard of it from other parts of the Financial District.
RAJPAL: All right, Christiane, we thank you for that. Our chief international correspondent reporting to us from Central London.
There is traffic on the streets. But, again, most of the transportation system if not all of the transportation system within Central London into and out of London itself has come to a standstill -- Fionnuala.
SWEENEY: Indeed. And very scary experiences being reported by commuters who were traveling on the underground system into London when the first of these explosions started just over three hours ago. This city in the last three hours has come to a halt in and around those areas where the explosions occurred. Explosions also being reported on buses.
So, we know two people are confirmed dead, 90 people injured.
Let's go now to Will Chamberlain, who is outside one of those stations, which was badly hit this morning, Kings Cross Station in Central London. We also are able to go to our affiliate reporters from ITN at the scene.
I understand that Will Chamberlain is on the line there with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At Aldgate East Station, which has just behind me here, they've been using that as a sort of triage center, treating the walking wounded and treating the more seriously wounded here. And I believe they've seen about 90 people at that center this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Helen, thank you very much indeed for that. More information reaching us. The French prime minister has said that France is on a high level of security alert; that, after what's been happening in London this morning.
We can now speak to another colleague of mine, Hamish McDonald (ph). He's at Russell Square.
Hello, Hamish (ph). What can you tell us?
OK. We can't speak to Hamish (ph) at the moment.
But what we can show you are more pictures from Russell Square. This is the scene. There is the bus that we have been describing all morning, appalling scene. The top of this double-decker bus blown clean off. These pictures from earlier, just being brought back into the building here at ITV News, show just the devastation that's been caused there.
Remember, one of six explosions this morning confirmed to us earlier this morning by the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair. He said, though, the picture was very confused. The picture not confusing at all, though, for one eyewitness that Chris Choi was speaking to, Angelo Power (ph), describing the appalling scenes that he got caught up with on the Russell Square Tube. He said that people were praying out loud. It was pitch black. The smoke was filling the air. People were banging against the windows, trying to get out of the Tube, trying to get rid of the smoke. People thought, and he thought indeed that he was going to die. He thought, he said, his time was up. People trying to get out all the time, screaming, hysteria. It was like a scene from hell, he said.
That's just one of the six explosions, which was confirmed to us earlier by the Metropolitan Police chief commissioner, Sir Ian Blair. This is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAIR: There have been a series of explosions. It's obviously an extremely serious incident. There are casualties. I've come on to your program, and I'll go on to other programs, just to reassure London that the Metropolitan Police in concert with all of the other emergency services is now in charge of this incident.
The advice to the public is to stay where they are. Almost all travel facilities across London are closed at the moment. And what we must not have is too many people trying to move around.
We also want people not to call the emergency services unless the incident is life-threatening. We're coping at the moment. And we are gradually assuming control and order across this very difficult scene.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner speaking a little bit earlier on his views of what is happening. The police, he said, are gradually gaining control.
This is the scene near one of the explosions this morning at Russell Square. Remember, there have been six explosions in or, we think, according to the Metropolitan Police, those on the underground and one above ground on a bus. This is the scene of that. These pictures are just reaching us.
And you can get a picture of the chaos that there has been in London, the confusion. People are being moved away there by police officers. The London emergency plan is in place. Every single area around the explosions are being or is being evacuated. People are being moved away from the scene.
Of course, police are fearful that maybe more explosive devices yet to go off. Sniffer dogs have been seen on the capital streets near the scene of every explosion. As people are evacuated, the dogs sweep in, seeing if they can detect any more devices.
Meanwhile, underground on London's Tube system, as we speak, a huge rescue operation is under way. We understand, though it's not confirmed, there are people still trapped underground.
There are the sniffer dogs, checking every corner of every street in Central London, fearing that maybe yet there are more devices.
We'll get a security expert who is with me in the studio. And, of course, it is speculation. But can we say for sure that it is unlikely that we will get another explosion in London today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we can make a guess either way, Steve. I think at the moment there could be a number of other devices discovered. Hopefully, devices which were intended to detonate, but perhaps failed for whatever reason. But I think there is always that distinct possibility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what you've seen, by all of the information that we've got already or that we know, and it isn't much it has to be said, would you estimate -- or how many people would you estimate were behind this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's always difficult to say. In general terms, al Qaeda will operate in (INAUDIBLE), I would say this is probably one singular cell.
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