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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Terror in London

Aired July 7, 2005 - 13:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The update, 37 now are confirmed dead at the various underground stations, there that were targeted. The flour blasts: 8:51 a.m. London time near Moorgate; 8:56 a.m. between King's Cross and Russell Square on Piccadilly line; 9:17 a.m. at the Edgware Road station. And then, of course, the double-decker bus that was attacked as well -- 9:47 a.m. is when that happened.
Thirty-seven dead. The number of wounded has climbed to 700. Both of those numbers, we must caution you, are likely to change as things change on the ground and as the investigation continues.

It is still unknown who did it. There has been a claim of responsibility. Nothing confirmed yet.

And it's also unknown if it was suicide bombers, if it was packages, if it was bomb, if they were in the tunnels or if they were on the trains. It appears, at this time, at least, that it is likely that the explosive devices were on the trains.

The entire underground was stopped. One reporter told us not long ago that he had seen a sign coming in saying "London closed." Sort of an ominous sign, I would say.

And we have heard not only from President Bush, but also from Tony Blair, the British prime minister, who, at first word of the attack, sounded actually quite shaken as he addressed the world, and then later sounded full of resolve, along with the other world leaders that we have heard from, when he talked about the fact that the terrorists will not win, that the life of those who are in free civilized society will continue. And, in fact, one way that the terrorists will not win is that people will go on and continue to live their lives.

The attacks obviously condemned by the U.N. Security Council. That happened at a noon meeting today.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: In London, three million people use the transit system every day. Just the underground, as a matter of fact. And this morning was not unlike any other morning.

People jammed into the underground, into the tube, on their way to work. Seven hundred, 900 to a carriage, to a train, doing what they do in the morning and trying to go to work. Instead of getting to work, the entire system came to a grinding halt right around 9:00 local time. It's been more than 10 hours now.

Thirty-seven people were killed, at least 700 wounded. Direct victims of all this, but in a sense, it being terror, we all become victims, especially the people of London.

We've been hearing from people all day as they describe the scene of horror beneath the streets of the center of London, the city, as they call it. Let's listen to the sights and sounds as they sort of unfolded this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're watching live picture from King's Cross station on the subway line in London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 8:51 this morning, there was an incident at Moorgate, around Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Moorgate East underground stations.

At 8:56 this morning, at the King's Cross-Russell Square incident.

At 9:17, there was an explosion on a train coming in Edgware Road underground station.

And then at 9:47, there was an explosion on a bus at upper Woban Square (ph), junction with Tavistock Place.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's reasonably clear that there have been a series of terrorist attacks in London. There are obviously casualties, both people that have died and people seriously injured. And our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with the victims and their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was about sort of 25, 30 meters away from it when it just completely blew up and into thousands of pieces. It looked to me as though there was no bus left at all.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll not yield to the terrorists. We will find them, we will bring them to justice. And at the same time, we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate.

I've been in contact with our homeland security folks. And I instructed them to be in contact with our local and state officials about the facts of what took place here in London, and to be extra vigilant.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The United States government is raising the threat level from code yellow, or elevated, to code orange, high, targeted only to the mass transit portion of the transportation sector. I want to emphasize that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This city of London is the greatest in the world because everybody lives side by side in harmony. And Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity around those who have been injured, those who have been bereaved.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: We have been relying heavily on our global resources to tell this story as it has been unfolding on the ground in London, led by CNN's Christiane Amanpour there. And, in addition, we've been getting a lot of help from our friends at the independent television network ITN, based in Great Britain.

Dan Rivers is a correspondent for ITN. We saw him earlier in front of Scotland Yard before officials gave that news conference which gave us a lot of information about what happened this morning.

Dan, what's the update from there, at this point? First of all, officials were, I think, justifiably proud of the response. The question which was sort of unclear to me was, what about the warning, and whether they were -- they had lowered, in fact, the threat level in advance of this, and whether that was the prudent thing to do?

DAN RIVERS, REPORTER, ITN: Yes, they were fairly clear that they said they had no warning, there were no sort of increase in chatter, electronic chatter or surveillance before these attacks took place. But you're right, the threat level was brought down within the last month from severe specific to severe general.

That is still the second highest threat level warning here. But it was brought down.

Now, there will be some questions to be asked about why that was done, why they had clearly no idea about the presence of this group. It seems this came completely without any sort of warning, without any sort of intelligence being picked up. That will be something they'll be discussing here.

The prime minister, Tony Blair, has been here at Scotland Yard within the last hour, talking to his home secretary, Charles Clark, and the head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, as well as some other police ministers. Clearly, they will be focusing on not only the intelligence, but the investigation into who did this.

I'm told tonight the forensic teams will be going into the tube tunnels, the metro tunnels, to see what evidence there is to find down there. We're told it's going to be about 48 hours before we have any idea as to which source of explosives were used. And they still don't know whether these bombs were detonated by suicide bombers or if they were left on the trains by the terrorists that perpetrated these horrendous attacks this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, Dan, that raises the question, if it's possible there are people who are fleeing, or have fled, have the authorities there made the assumption that it was not a suicide attack? And have they set up some sort of net at the airports and train stations and so forth, attempting to catch somebody? Of course, they don't have much to go with, do they?

RIVERS: They have pretty much nothing to go with at the moment, from what I've gathered. But I'm sure you're right.

I'm sure all the airports and all the ports will be intensely monitored over the coming days. We still don't know if these men are at large, as you say, or if they blew themselves up in an attempt to bring carnage to London this morning.

There is a bit of sort of jittery atmosphere in the center of town. There's lots of police cars zooming around with sirens on. Lots of bomb scares on other buses which are beginning to run now. And people are very wary.

A lot of people are walking home. You can see it's raining. It's a pretty miserable night here in London. A lot of people will have to walk home because the metro system is still not working. So I think the police, now their main focus will be getting into those tunnels, getting as much information as they can, as quickly as they can, to find out if these men are still at large.

M. O'BRIEN: And I suppose there are quite a few people who don't really have the luxury of being able to walk home if they live a good distance away. Are there quite a few people that might be stranded in the city tonight?

RIVERS: Yes, I think so. There was talk -- I haven't seen the pictures, but apparently there are reports of people walking up the main highway out of London. There are lots of people walking out of town.

Some of the overland trains to south of London are running, apparently. But certainly in the middle of town and to the north and west, it's pretty paralyzed, as far as the tube is concerned.

And some buses are beginning to run. But I think a lot of people probably actually when this all happened turned around and went home this morning.

It's very, very quiet in the middle of town. We've had other reporters in Trafalgar Square, for example. It's pretty quiet around there, when normally this time of night it would be fairly busy with everyone going home.

M. O'BRIEN: Dan, these questions sometimes can be a little bit unfair, but would you -- is there a way to characterize the mood of the city tonight?

RIVERS: Deeply, deeply shocked. Clearly, everyone at the back of their minds always thought this could happen, but we always wanted to believe it never would happen. But now it has happened.

Everyone is deeply shocked. I think everyone is very wary. They're worried that this may happen again, that these men may still be at large, and very depressed that finally the war on terror has been brought right home here to London just one day after everyone was celebrating that London won the 2012 Olympics.

M. O'BRIEN: Dan Rivers with ITN. Thank you very much -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: We have been talking all morning and afternoon as well to eyewitnesses in the wakes of -- in the wake of the attacks. And some of the details that they have been sharing are just utterly gruesome about what they have seen and the extent of the injuries coming from the blast. Let's get right to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's at the CNN Center with more on this.

Sanjay, when we heard in the press conference the details of the injuries, it almost sounded like war injuries, as opposed to an explosion to me.

We're obviously having some technical difficulties. Sanjay, I'm going to interrupt you because we're having a little troubling hearing you. Let's see if we can fix your audio, and then we'll get right back to that question.

Gruesome, horrible injuries reported by Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police not very long ago.

We are experiencing some -- I can see Sanjay's lips moving, and yet I can't hear him, which to me says audio difficulties. We'll take a moment there to fix those problems and we'll continue to update you on exactly what's happening.

Thirty-seven dead is the number that we're getting confirmed. Expecting those numbers to rise, of course. Seven hundred people injured, though, in four explosions right in the heart of London. You can see on the map here the proximity, really, of all of these explosions taking place within a -- actually, just under an hour.

M. O'BRIEN: The proximity and the synchronicity. And what amazes me is this took a lot of planning. This took a lot of planning, and no one seems to have any indication that it was in the work.

How do you put together something like this? Well, presumably, you keep it within a very close group, you don't use cell phones and the like. And as a result, you get away with a -- at least for now, anyway -- a terrible terror attack that leaves 37 dead, 700 wounded.

And some of these injuries that we've been seeing are pretty serious. You know, war injuries is what we're talking about. We're talking about burns, we're talking about amputations, we're talking about blunt trauma type of things. Of course a lot of gashes from the glass. But it seems like it would be an awful place to -- not that there's a good place to be when a bomb goes off, but it seems like a terrible place to be, underground in the tube.

S. O'BRIEN: For many reasons, not the least of which is getting the rescuers in to the London underground, which is already very difficult to access in the wake of an explosion, ridiculously impossible, to some degree, to get to, to the point where the rescuers, as we heard from the fire brigade captain, were leaving the dead, because it's a crime scene and they did not want to destroy or damage the crime scene evidence. And so they moved people out in a controlled fashion, they said, but left the dead behind as they continue their investigation.

We're going to check on Sanjay again to see if our little technical difficulties have been ironed out.

Sanjay, can you hear me? No, I don't think he can hear me still. Well...

M. O'BRIEN: Well, it's worth pointing out about the -- you know, they call it the tube, and it's for good reason, because they really are tubes. And this particular subway system, the underground, is the oldest subway system in the world.

Built in the 1850s, opened in 1863. And certainly built long before all the considerations that are brought into building such things for access and emergency and fire, all those codes. Much of it built long before there was any consideration for that.

So you can only imagine, you know, when the fire brigade says we rehearsed this -- this type of scenario, it's not -- I mean, their task had to be -- it was a Herculean effort just to do what they did, I think, today.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. They said shocked, but not surprised, really, because they had rehearsed it, because they had expected essentially -- and we were told that by numerous members of the Metropolitan Police. We heard that in their press conference. They were expecting that there might be an attack on the London underground or transportation authority in some capacity.

They were planning for it. They were preparing for it. And they eventually had to put all those resources into place and try to rescue folks.

So it's a really terrible day. And a sad day in London today, as they cope with their losses.

And frankly, as we saw on 9/11, the aftermath. You know, it takes people a very long time, if they ever recover psychologically, because, of course, that's the goal of the terrorists, to undermine your confidence and attack the most normal thing you do, taking a train into work. You know, that's sort of the goal.

M. O'BRIEN: I suppose we all become victims if we allow ourselves to.

One of the obvious things that we all think about, well, what's happening in my back yard? And all throughout the United States today, government officials have been asking that question at all levels. And as we've been telling you, the Department of Homeland Security has put out a very specific orange alert, elevated security threat concern, just for the mass transit systems. And what means is, if you're a strap hanger and you're headed home tonight or tomorrow morning, you might see a bomb-sniffing dog on your train, or something along those lines, as you head there. There's the high level of concern of terrorist threat that is focused on those mass transit systems.

CNN' Adaora Udoji is at Pennsylvania Station here in midtown Manhattan, where, of course, there is a lot of concern and a lot of security present -- Adaora.

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Miles. We've definitely seen and heard of an increase in security. And when I say heard, I mean we've heard helicopters going above in the sky, then we've seen lots of police patrolling the area.

And we heard from Governor Pataki and from Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier saying that there's no indication whatsoever that New York has been targeted in anyway. But they have taken a number of precautionary steps.

Also -- let me just back up. They've also said they've seen normal ridership today, both in the subways and in the trains and on the buses. Here at Penn Station, that's roughly 600,000 people a day who come through.

Going back to those precautionary steps, they have increased patrols, not only in the subways, in the actual trains, the commuter trains, on buses, they're putting uniformed officers, as well as things that we, obviously, are not going to able to see. But those that we can, those officers are making a very visible presence on those trains and on the buses.

Also, in the harbor, they have police boats which are escorting some of the ferries that are going across from Staten Island to Manhattan. They talked about the first platoon. Those are the police officers that come in from midnight until 8:00 in the morning, that they have been extended indefinitely, adding thousands of officers to the streets here in New York City.

They've activated the bomb-sniffing unit, the K9 units. They are all out.

Again, all precautionary steps because officials here in New York saying no indication whatsoever that New York is in any way a target. And we've talked to lots of commuters, Miles. Many of them saying they didn't -- they heard the news this morning but it didn't affect their commute in anyway.

They're still choosing to take mass transportation, acknowledging that, you know, there's just risks. And obviously, everyone knows that something could potentially happen, but they have to live their life, keep, you know, moving on, regardless.

And one other interesting thing is here at Penn Station, there's also these over the loud -- the announcer keeps coming over the loud speaker, saying -- telling riders to make sure to hold on to their bags, if they see anything suspicious to certainly go and tell someone -- law enforcement police officer or one of the military soldiers that you see walking around here -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Here's what's interesting, Adaora. New York has always been on the orange threat level, really since 9/11. And so I'm kind of surprised that there's a significant difference by making the mass transit system in New York orange. It should have been orange before this.

Is this something now that will be kept in place?

UDOJI: Well, in talking to the commissioner of police, he and the governor and the mayor spoke not that long ago. They were saying that many of these stepped-up measures -- it is true that New York City has been under the level orange alert since 9/11. But that there were even additional measures, like keeping those police officers on duty, for example, as well as putting more boats out on the rivers, on both sides of Manhattan, as well as escorting the ferries back and forth, putting more uniformed officers on the trains or on the buses.

I mean, they are just taking it a little bit step higher. And they said indefinitely. So, at this point, I think obviously they're watching things unfold in London and obviously they're looking at their intelligence and trying to figure out where and what they should be targeting most of their efforts at this time. But again, they called it precautionary measures.

M. O'BRIEN: CNN's Adaora Udoji at Penn Station. Thank you very much -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Seven hundred casualties now reported at this hour. And they range, the injuries, from relatively minor scrapes and bruises and cuts to amputations, we are told. And some people had to be whisked into the hospital for immediate surgery.

It brings us right to Sanjay Gupta. He's at the CNN Center with the latest on this.

Sanjay, some of these injuries sound more like war injuries, frankly.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And unfortunately, Soledad, that's exactly where they get a lot of data from, actually looking at these types of injuries in the past, looking at wars, looking at suicide bombers in other countries. Unfortunately, this is the kind of data that has accumulated over the years. They can predict with a reasonable degree of confidence what exactly happens in an explosion-type situation.

First of all, there are the primary injuries. Now, that's just the blast type of injuries. They tend to affect those organs in the body that have air in them. So the lungs, the ear, as well, the ear drum, and the gut.

And then there are secondary injuries. That's going to be from all the shrapnel and the debris flying around. These can also be very significant.

The third-degree injuries, that's just from the body itself now has become airborne and can be a projectile in and of itself. It can knock into other bodies, it can be hit as well by other objects.

And then finally, the fourth-degree injuries, those are things like burns. You can also have other injuries, asthma, heart attacks, things like that, that might occur as an effect of all the previous things as well.

Focusing for a second just on the blast lung injuries, you know, lungs are very large organs. They're very affected by a blast because they have so much air in them.

The most common fatal injury, at least initially, cause by an over-pressurization during the blast. It just cause a differentiation in pressure around the body, in the body.

Sometimes the injury may not be apparent even to the person until about 48 hours later. They may just have things like shortness of breath. They may have difficulty with coughing, things like that. But these are very scary things, Soledad.

And as you pointed out, a lot of these -- the information I just gave you comes from wars. That's where we get this information.

S. O'BRIEN: It's pretty gruesome. We heard from the Metropolitan Police that many -- most of these trains were actually in transit, inside the tunnel, in the underground, when the explosion took place. And it sounds as if, at this early stage, that maybe it was designed to be that way.

Give me a sense of how that plays a role in the injuries. It makes it significantly worse when it's underground?

GUPTA: It does. It makes it significantly worse for a couple of reasons.

They typically classify these into enclosed space-type injuries, a semi-enclosed space, or an open space. This was considered an enclosed space injury.

These are some of the worst types of injuries just I think for obvious reasons. A blast just has nowhere to go except to keep reinforcing on its victims.

Again, you know, they have some data from suicide bombers in Jerusalem. This is an interesting picture. I think we can put that up here.

Take a look at this. Just get yourself acquainted with this.

In the sort of middle of the picture, that sort of -- that fire sort of looking thing, that's an explosion on a bus. All the dark squares are who died on that bus as a result of that.

You can get a sense of the distribution of injury here. The moderately injured are yellow and the lightly injured are in orange.

So that's what happens. It's, again, very predictable based on primary, secondary, tertiary injuries. People might die that are closest. They might be protected by someone who's closer, but that's essentially what happens. Again, that's from a Jerusalem suicide bombing in the past -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It's so horrible that, you know, we've come to this in this day and age that...

GUPTA: Yes, I know.

S. O'BRIEN: ... they can do a graphic of who's going to survive and who's going to die when a suicide bomber boards a bus. It's really, really horrible.

What do people die from? I mean, you say the long is greatly affected. Obviously you get hit by shrapnel, you're going to die. But overwhelmingly, what do people die of?

GUPTA: The biggest thing, at least, again, in the initial period, is going to probably be head injuries. You know, we didn't talk much about that earlier, but the head injuries, again -- and Soledad, I feel like I'm saying this over and over again, but we have a lot of database just on previous types of injuries like this, injuries inside enclosed places like buses, like in subway tunnels, and in war-type situations.

Let's show you what happens specifically in terms of a blast injury to the brain. And what you're seeing is an acceleration- deceleration injury.

The brain is moving back and forth within the skull. It gets bruised in front, it gets bruised in back, and it goes back and forth. Initially, Soledad, these are the worst type of injuries. These are the types of injuries that probably caused death at the scene of this violent explosion.

S. O'BRIEN: That's kind of even tough to look at, even in that sort of mocked-up -- mocked-up graphic.

GUPTA: I know.

S. O'BRIEN: You know, we heard word -- and again, you know, I guess I'm using the word "gruesome" a lot, but this one really struck me as sort of gruesome. They're leaving the bodies down inside the tunnels because it's a crime scene. How do they use those bodies to aid in a crime scene?

GUPTA: Well, I think "gruesome" is unfortunately the best word. A couple of reasons.

One is that, you know, when you look at the pattern of bodies here, where they ended up, where body parts ended up -- again, this is terrible to talk about, but you can make a prediction as to where exactly the explosive was located. This becomes critically important information in the investigative part of things.

Also, the other part that's difficult is just identifying bodies afterward, which body parts belong where. If you move them, that might be harder to identify later on down the road. These are a couple of the reasons from purely crime scene investigation sort of standpoint as to why they're going to leave the deceased in those area for some time.

S. O'BRIEN: You know, just really terrible. And, of course, I imagine the injuries, as we saw on 9/11, many people who don't even think they're injured will have injuries. And then, of course, the psychological injuries is a whole other thing that I'm certain we'll be talking about in upcoming days.

Sanjay, thanks. We'll continue to check in with you.

M. O'BRIEN: That's tough sledding.

S. O'BRIEN: I know.

M. O'BRIEN: Jeez.

All right. We -- we're going to take a break. And when we come back, we're going to check in with Richard Quest.

He's been right in the center of things. As a matter of fact, he was on the tube just really about a half an hour before this all happened. And, like so many people in London are saying this evening, you know, there but for the grace of god go I. We'll check in with him, get his first-hand experiences, and find out what's happening in London now as it approaches 7:30 in the evening.

Back with more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Some still images from what all has transpired in London, in the center of that city today. At this time, we have confirmation of at least 37 dead and 700 wounded. A tremendous response by the emergency medical and rescue personnel there in London.

At least 100 ambulances involved, 250 ambulance personnel, as they responded and acted out upon a script which they had rehearsed many times and really dreaded that they would have to employ. The early papers coming out with the headlines screaming, people pausing and reflecting on the situation there.

Let's take a look at the map just quickly. We'll give you a sense of where Richard Quest is in the midst of right now. And just follow us through on the timeline.

8:15 in the morning, local time, Moorgate, Liverpool Street area, in the underground, an explosion about 100 yards from the tunnel -- in the tunnel from the Liverpool station, seven dead.

Five minutes later, 8:56 a.m., King's Cross, Russell Square area, Piccadilly line, 21 fatalities in that particular explosion.

9:17 a.m., Edgware station on the Circle line. In this particular explosion, it blew a hole through a wall which ended up damaging another train, and even a third train potentially. Seven dead there at least.

And then finally, at 9:47 a.m., a little less than an hour transpires between the beginning and end of this. A double-deader bus at Tavistock Place, an explosion there. Unknown number of dead there. Actually, we know of two dead there now, but that number, of course, could change as well.

So, it is 7:30 in London. The workday is well over, such as it was. I don't think much work was done there today, because I don't think that businesses were opened as a result of all of this. People who, in many cases, might very well be stranded in the city are trying to find a way home as we speak.

CNN's Richard Quest, who this morning was on the tube, not long before all this occurred, is with us now to give us a sense of the scene there in London -- Richard.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, just listening to your timeline and your description paints an extremely chilling tone for any of us who live in this city. This is where I suppose one's professional journalism and one's personal life come head to head. You talk about the Piccadilly line. You talk about Liverpool Street station. These are not -- for those of us who live here, these are not remote, exotic-sounding places. These are the places we go through every day. The Piccadilly line is a line -- a tube line, a subway line that most of us take because it's one of most important.

Behind me, you see the other side of Aldgate. We've moved around slightly to give you another idea of the sort of size and scene. Now, I suppose it's tempting to say this looks like a very normal scene and a very normal -- except there aren't that many people here. This should be the rush hour in the summer. The traffic is moving, but there isn't that much of it. People went home early. People just literally couldn't get home this evening. There are no subways, Miles. The buses are few and far between. And there is a definite feeling about the whole city, that this is what people had been dreading miles, and it's happened.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, it's interesting, though, Richard, I think that people, on the one hand, have dreaded this, but on the other hand, might have been in a little bit of denial about it actually happening up until this morning. Would you agree with that?

QUEST: To a -- I -- I don't know. I think to a point there was -- that there was an inevitability of the minds of many people about what took place today. We look back -- for example, Dame Manningham- Buller, the head of the British secret service, the former head of the metropolitan police, time and again, they've said it's not a case of if, it's a case of when. And if you're going to attack London, you're going to attack the London subway system. So the -- and of course, don't forget, I grew up in this country at a time of the IRA attacks. So it was not unusual to hear of bomb blasts in the capital city of the U.K. That said, this is a reality. And it comes -- and you know, there's one other point.

And since we're talking sort of -- in wider circles. This city was jubilant yesterday, having just been announced it was to host the 2012 Olympic Games. If you look at every national newspaper, it had it on the front page. This was London's big moment. And the very next morning, this takes place.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, how poignant is that, to have people literally reading a tabloid proclaiming that victory on the very subways that exploded. That really kind of sums it up in a nutshell, doesn't it?

QUEST: And, you know, it's one of those water cooler questions. If this had happened 24 hours previously, what would have that done to the Olympic decision? I mean, you know, these are the sort of things people are asking. Not that the two are related in any sense. The death of over 37 people cannot be counted in any shape, form, or description in relation to anything.

But it raises the question of security in the British capital, the inevitability of a major attack that the security forces have been waiting for. Now, it was always going to be a question of how many deaths would be involved. And 37 at the moment, several hundred dreadful injuries, is absolutely abhorrent. But it could have been a great deal worse. This was the rush hour on the London underground with hundreds of thousands of people on those trains and below -- and below ground.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, Richard, I'd like to think that if it had happened 24 hours earlier, that would have guaranteed London would have won the Olympics.

QUEST: You know, it's very interesting you say that. Because we were talking about that at lunch, we were having a quick snack. And I think we all came to the same conclusion. We came -- you know, it's awful to say what would or what could or what should or what might have happened. Today, London is -- the clock has been put back, miles. This is a city that lived through, sustained, and many IRA attacks and INLA attacks and many Irish attacks during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, and even in the early 1990s. So it's not unusual to hear that wealth of sirens across the whole city. We thought that, to some extent, was finished from the Irish incidents. We knew that it was going to happen again as a result other matters, if you like, al Qaeda, Middle East terrorism. And today has proved the point.

M. O'BRIEN: Richard Quest, thanks for talking with us in larger circles, as you put it. Appreciate it -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Richard, of course, raising the question of vulnerability, a question that people around the globe are asking, as well, today. President Bush has extended his condolences and the condolences of the nation, as well, in his remarks at the G-8 Summit. He remains there in Scotland. He is one of the world leaders who's attending it. And he spoke earlier about the focus of the G-8, specifically, aid to Africa and the efforts toward stemming a global warming, and contrasted that with the work of the terrorists whose only goal is to maim and kill innocent civilians.

That brings us right to Bob Franken. He's at the White House for us this afternoon. Bob, the president's not there, but certainly, the terror attacks in London, the big focus of the White House.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, that's for sure. And the situation room here has been up and running. There's been the obvious coordination going between Washington and all the intelligence agencies here and the White House that's traveling in Europe. Scott McClellan, the president's press secretary, who is over there, made it a point to say there would be no change in George W. Bush's schedule. He would stay there and come back at the same time tomorrow evening to return to the White House.

But there is a lot going on here in Washington, Washington, D.C, along with New York City where you are still suffering the raw wounds of the September 11th attacks. There is a particular feeling, of course, with the London attacks going on today and a concern that there could be some sort of coordinated effort that would spread to the United States. Officials made it clear they had no intelligence to suggest that.

But as you've been reporting all day, they've ratcheted up the alert level for the metro systems here in Washington and subway systems and mass transit systems across the United States. But the White House seems determined to project, even with that, an air of business as usual. No sense of panic, is the message they're trying to communicate to everybody. At the same time, ratcheting up the resolve both here and over at the G-8 conference -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And I think it's fair to say ratcheting up the air of solidarity. It's certainly a word we've heard a lot today. And we heard it from Condoleezza Rice, as she offered aid, in any way, shape or form, really, to the British government. And we hear, as well, they're sending off FBI agents to help out in the investigation.

FRANKEN: Well, there's always a sense of how small the world is and that something that's happening in London can very quickly find its way to New York City, to Washington, that type of thing. By the way, I want to mention that Vice President Cheney is on his way back to Washington. It was not a late decision. He had scheduled to come back today. He's been in Wyoming. He is on his way back. We don't have a schedule for him. But, again, the White House is saying all of that is routine. There is a tremendous amount of concern, a higher degree of alertness, but they're conducting business as usual. They are not going to allow themselves, goes the message, to be disrupted by the work of terrorists.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, I guess the message also to the terrorists that they will not win. Bob Franken at the White House for us. Bob, thanks for that update from there.

Let's listen to a little bit more of what Condoleezza Rice had to say in her brief remarks just a little bit earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I've come to express on behalf of the American people our solidarity with and concern for the people of Great Britain and particularly the people of London on this very sad day. This is obviously an attack that demonstrates the barbarity of the terrorists with whom we are dealing. I want to express our sympathy and our prayers for the families of those who have died and our prayers and wishes for the recovery of the injured. I also want to say that, of course, we have no better friend and ally in the struggle against terrorism than Great Britain.

I know that, as difficult as this day is and the kind of agony that it produces -- the United States having been through this kind of agony -- that it will, in fact, only strengthen the resolve of Great Britain, of Prime Minister Blair and his government, and of the people of Great Britain, to make certain that terrorists know that they cannot win, that we remain resolved in our determination to root out this scourge against humanity and against civilization.

These were simply innocent people, many of them on their way to work on a beautiful Thursday. And so to the people of Great Britain, again, our deepest sympathies and our solidarity. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: That's Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. What you're looking at right there is the condolence book. The secretary signed that book at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., where she was paying her respects. We are expecting that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will be going to that embassy, as well, and signing that condolence book a little bit later this afternoon.

We're going to take a short break right here. When we come back in just a moment, we'll update you on the latest that we know about the deaths being reported out of London, the number of wounded, and any other updates and changes that we're getting right here at CNN. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: So the question today, as we continue to sort of sort through what happened, looking ahead, is who in the world was responsible for this coordinated attack on the London rush hour? Underground and above ground as well, four separate explosions, all within the span of an hour. There had been some claims on the Internet and we have to take those for what they are. They are not considered to be genuine claims. And we've been talking to Nic Robertson quite a bit about these about these all day today.

Our senior Arab affairs editor Octavia Nasr has been looking very carefully at all of the Arabic language sites and gives us a sense, first of all, of the validity of that claim by this group, which we hadn't heard about before, as well as how the Arab media is covering it. Let's start, -- first of all, Octavia, good to have you with us. Let's start with this claim, and whether it seems like it's a bonafide claim.

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SENIOR ARAB AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, it doesn't seem like a credible claim, but of course, this is the only claim that's out there, so we have to report it as such. The reason why we don't think it's credible, Miles, is that the name of the group is not that familiar. We've heard of groups that sounded the same.

And you have to understand, the name of the group in Arabic means something, when you translate it to English. Two or three different groups might have the same name, when you translate them to English. So there is a twist here. The name of the group is not necessarily al Qaeda in Europe, but al Qaeda Group in Europe. In Arabic, it makes a big difference. So this is a group that we've heard mentioned a couple of times or maybe the same group, we're not too sure. And in the two times that I remember covering stories where this group came in with claims, they were not credible. They made some outrageous claims and it turned out they were not credible at all. So we're not buying it, necessarily.

But like I said, this is the only claim out there. We believe that when al Qaeda -- if al Qaeda is behind this attack, al Qaeda will have a serious claim. It will detail how the attack was carried out. It will probably give the names of -- if this was suicide bombers that carried out the attack, they will give the names and perhaps their testimonials before they carried out the attack. So al Qaeda has a very distinct language and also ways of announcing that they are -- they have carried out an attack. And also, some experts I spoke with are saying that we should be hearing from Osama bin Laden soon about this attack if, indeed, al Qaeda was behind it, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Octavia, you talk about the language of this statement. And by the way, the translation I have of the organization is cumbersome at best. "Secret Organization Group of al Qaeda of Jihad of Europe." And I'm going to guess that's kind of a poor translation.

NASR: It is. This is the word-by-word -- this is the actual exact translation, which, of course, some people summarize to al Qaeda in Europe. There was a group that claimed, you know, the Madrid bombings, for example, that was called the al Qaeda in Europe. But what is al Qaeda in Europe when you think about it? It's not like we're dealing with groups that have a P.O. box address or, you know, a secretary answering the phone and giving us information. These are groups that post messages on the Internet. They also -- in one case, they sent a fax to an Arabic newspaper that's based in London once.

So who are these groups? We do not know. They're just -- as far as we're concerned, they're just names and claiming responsibility. We start to believing these claims when we get more information, more details about the attack, how it was carried out. Al Qaeda is known to sort of brag about how they carried out the attack, naming names, also giving detailed testimonials of those who carry out the attack. They usually go on camera, even, and say the reasoning behind them carrying out attacks of this sort. So al Qaeda has a different flavor. It has a different way of announcing and claiming responsibility.

This group, like I said, I mean, you look at the language. Again, it had many mistakes, Arabic mistakes. For all those native Arabic speakers that read the claim, I mean, they were able to pick up on some really basic mistakes. It's not credible at all at this point. And, again, anyone can go on the Internet and post any message. So unless you see pictures, you see evidence, you see more details of the attack, it's not a claim that should be taken seriously at this point.

M. O'BRIEN: And so al Qaeda has good grammar, typically? I mean that is...

NASR: Indeed, they do.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

NASR: Indeed, they do. They have -- and they even have something like a media strategy. They is like a media coordinator or a spokesperson in a way. And, of course, they all pride themselves on their Arabic. They pride themselves on being able to improvise, you know, reading without a script and speaking for hours on, nonstop, in good Arabic. So, yes, they pride themselves for their Arabic. So it's always something that we look for.

They have a very particular way of writing. They use the Koran a lot. They use verses from the Koran to sort of explain to their followers and to the skeptics, those who they believe are skeptics, in order to convince them that even the Koran says that this is what we should be doing. It's very interesting, when you start studying these groups and you study their language and you listen to the language and you translate it, they have a very interesting way of announcing things and making statements and especially claims -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's turn the corner here just quickly. Because I know you spend a lot of time watching the al Jazeeras of the world. What's the Arab media saying about this? How does their coverage differ from what we've been talking about all day?

NASR: Well, first of all, as far as the shock is concerned, it's very similar. They're shocked, they're dismayed. You can tell that they're taking this story very seriously. They're on it wall to wall. They're not doing anything else but the bombings in London. So they're taking it very seriously. And you can tell there's a shock.

There's also always on Arab media -- especially when we talk about Arab media, we're talking about mainstream Arab media -- these are networks that broadcast around the world. So they have a different way of dealing with this news than the local Arab media. And they deal with it very responsibly, I should say. Both al Arabiya and al Jazeera, the way they're reporting it is in a balanced way. They're giving it the weight that it deserves.

But there are two question marks that are -- that seem to be the focus of the coverage. Number one, this state of alert business. They're not necessarily getting it. And you here it a lot from experts on these networks. They're questioning: Why do you raise the level of alert after the fact? Why isn't the level of alert high all the time?

And the other question on their mind seems to be: If you are raising the level of alert, why are you letting the whole world know about it? Basically, they're looking at it in a way that terrorists do watch television, too and you know, the proof is when you listen to Osama bin Laden or his number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, they always refer to news events.

So, basically they read the papers, they watch television. So, if the level of alert is going to be raised, they think, they say -- the experts, the terrorism experts are saying, you shouldn't be telling the whole world that you're raising the alert, just raise it and take care of your own, instead of advertising it.

M. O'BRIEN: It's pretty hard to argue with that point, Octavia. Those are good points and we hope folks who are in power are listening.

Thank you.

NASR: Anytime.

M. O'BRIEN: Octavia Nasr, our senior Arab-affairs editor. We appreciate it -- Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Well, the British and European markets took a bit of nose-dive earlier on in the immediate wake of the explosions. They recovered, stabilized somewhat.

Let's get right to Mary Snow with the overall impact on the day -- Mary?

(MARKET UPDATE)

M. O'BRIEN: All right, just to bring you up to date on what's going one: The death toll now stand at 37 people, 37 people, 700 injuries. At least 45 of those injuries are considered very serious and we're talking about injuries on the order of blunt trauma and amputations and burns.

This, in the midst of a busy rush hour commute on their way to work this morning. You know, 3 million people use the tubes every day in London. It is -- to say it is the life blood, the circulatory system of London is a bit of an understatement, quite frankly.

And to use it as a target, clearly was a target of opportunity, because on a busy morning in a crowded train, if you were inclined to leave behind a package, leave behind a bomb, it probably could be done. Of course, we don't know whether it was a suicide bombing or that was the methodology, the M.O., as the police would call it.

CNN's John King has been looking at how our government, the United States, has been responding to this all day long. And John, I've got to ask you a question. Octavia Nasr brought out a great point, in watching the Arab media, the question they bring up repeatedly is: Why are you raising the threat level now and, also, why are you telling people about it?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the United States government, Miles, is saying it's raising the threat level and it is raising it only with regards to mass transit; going from yellow, elevated, to orange, which is a high risk of terrorist attack.

The Department of Homeland Security making that change today and the secretary of Homeland Security -- and you're seeing some of the ramifications of that higher alert right here, increased police presence at subway stations here in Washington and across the country.

Why, he says there's no specific credible intelligence at all suggesting there will be any attacks in the United States. But because the subway system was targeted in London and because, he says, the government knows quite well al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist groups would still like to attack the United States, they are doing this as a precaution.

Why tell people? It is interesting point of debate and it has been, of course, dating back to 9/11, but the Department of Homeland Security and the White House would tell you that they have evidence saying that if you raise the police presence, if you make it known that there is a more robust police and other security presence, that it does deter terrorist attacks.

So, they say it is the right thing to do. It is always debated in such cases. Now, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, having that briefing sometime ago, again trying to reassure the American people that they have no evidence that the terrorists will strike, but he says it's prudent to tell local officials to increase vigilance, raise some police presence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We have asked state and local leaders and transportation officials to increase their protective measures, including additional law enforcement police, bomb-detecting canine teams, increased video surveillance, spot testing in certain areas, added perimeter barriers, extra intrusion detection equipment and increased numbers of inspection of trash receptacles and other storage areas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, you heard him say, "spot testing," there, that means perhaps, stopping passengers in and out of train stations, in and out as they prepare to get on a bus.

The big concern, Miles, is they say they're waiting for results of the investigation in Great Britain. They say there's no evidence they are targeting things here, but they are concerned -- they've long said since 9/11, that they fear the terrorists will start going after softer targets like subway stations.

M. O'BRIEN: John King, in Washington. Thank you very much.

We've just been handed a statement from Kofi Annan, indicating he was devastated by the atrocious bombings. Mr. Annan's words, "I look to the Group of Eight in their deliberations over the next few days, to show themselves equal to the resolve. Let us not allow the violence perpetrated by a few to deflect us from addressing the aspirations of billions of fellow men and women who are demanding change."

We're going to take a break; back with more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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