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Conflagration: 'A guy was writhing around... I just told people they'd be OK' When the 7 July bombers struck, off-duty policewoman Lizzie Kenworthy was on the Tube train blown up at Aldgate station. She knew that she had to 'see what I could do' Interview by Julia Stuart Published: 18 December 2005
I was a safer schools officer at the time and normally would have been at a secondary school in south Tottenham, but that morning I was on my way to a conference in Westminster. I was in plain clothes and holding on to the rail in the middle of the carriage when there there was a bang and the train stopped. I thought we had had a shunt. Everyone gasped and the lights went out. Smoke started to come into the carriage and I told everyone to keep calm. People started to shout from the next carriage that they needed help, and doctors and nurses. That's when I got out my warrant card and said that I was a police officer. I went through the connecting doors into the next carriage and realised that we were in serious trouble. It was very dark and people covered in soot were coming towards me.
I walked through to the end and saw the buckled door of the next carriage, which is where the bomb had gone off. A man said: "You mustn't go in." I could hear people screaming, so I knew I had to see what I could do. I crawled through the interconnecting door, which had blood on the glass. One woman sitting on the seat was twisted round. She was trapped and there wasn't much left of her leg. The chap next to her had lost his leg and there was a woman to their left who was on her back trapped in the metal, which had twisted up through the middle of the carriage. The roof was still on, but the lining of the carriage had been blown off. The sides had also come off and there was a big hole in the floor. A guy was writhing around on a big sheet of metal a bit further up.
I had a corduroy jacket on and tied it round what was left of the first chap's leg as tightly as I could. I thought he would die if I didn't do something quickly. I held his hand, as well as the hand of the woman who had lost her leg, and told them that help was coming and they were going to live. A man from the carriage I'd come through asked if he could help and I told him to go and get some T-shirts and belts. He came back with some and I gave a belt to the woman who was on the seat and she tied it round her leg. I told her to hold on to it and help would come. She did; she was very brave. I also gave her a T-shirt to stem the blood from her other injuries.
The man who had lost his leg was talking to me almost normally. He said, "I've lost my leg", and I said, "Yes, but you're going to be all right." Periodically, I would check the woman on the floor because she was still shouting. I couldn't leave those three to go to the young man lying on the piece of metal. I thought I might as well stay with the people I could help. I just shouted to him that he would be all right.
The people who had been in my carriage started walking along the tracks towards Aldgate. I shouted at them quite angrily to get me a first-aid kit. They were walking like zombies. They couldn't bear to look. Eventually, the carriage filled up with paramedics and firemen, who took over. I started to flag a bit and decided to leave.
By the time I left the station an hour had passed since the explosion. I gave a policeman all the details of the people I had looked after. I went into a shop and they let me use their toilet to clean myself up. Then a woman took me to her office and I phoned my family. My sister's friend has a flat in the Barbican so I stayed there until my husband picked me up. When I got home I tore off my clothes and shoes, threw them in the garden and scrubbed myself as clean as I could. I didn't sleep at all.
I went back to work the next week and found it quite difficult to engage for a while. For a week, I thought the three people I'd been looking after were dead. Finding that they were alive was sheer pleasure. They seem to think that I saved their lives, but who can say? I'm still in touch with two of them and firm friends with the chap. We were invited to look at the train in a big hangar, which we did together.
At the beginning, I kept dreaming that I was back in the carriage and that everyone was all right. I think I might have been feeling guilty that I didn't do enough. I heard that the other chap had died. I hadn't gone to him, but I couldn't have left the three I was looking after. I will never know whether it would have made any difference if I had done something for him or not, so I have to live with that.
I think about what happened pretty much every day, but it's getting easier to deal with. I still travel by Tube and always carry a first-aid kit and a torch in my rucksack. It doesn't go away, but I live with it rather than it living with me.
I sometimes still have nightmares. It was the worst thing that I've had to deal with in my career. But nothing tops seeing those three people having their tea after the memorial service with their families. We had a sort of party afterwards, which was quite emotional. I just grinned and grinned. It was like winning the lottery seeing them. Although they had these horrendous injuries they were glad to be alive. I thought, if I do nothing else in my entire police career, I have done something that has made all the aggravation worth it.
As I had to pay for the article I wanted to post it here for reference.
Liverpool St - Aldgate .039kms approx 426 yards. MPS say explosion 100 yds from Liverpool Street yet all the passengers are evacuated 300 odd yards to Aldgate?
No mention is made of Liverpool Street evacuations by the LAS in this reply to Richard Barnes of the 7th july review committee.
B. The individual summary sheets for each incident site • Aldgate Underground Station • Edgware Road Underground Station • Kings Cross Underground Station • Russell Square Underground Station • Tavistock Square incident
As stated earlier, all five of these sites were cleared of all patients as follows:
Aldgate 1hr 22 mins Edgware 3hrs (best estimate) Kings Cross 2hrs 26 mins Russell Square 2hrs 56 mins Tavistock Square 2hrs 10 mins
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British Transport Police said the incident, reported at at 8.49am on the Metropolitan Line between Liverpool Street and Aldgate, was thought to have been caused by a collision between two trains, a power cut or a power cable exploding.
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Survivors described scenes of total chaos. Mustafa Kurtuldu, 24, from Hackney, told Times Online at Aldgate East: "The train seemed to almost lift up off the rails. It sounded like an impact. It went white and there were flames outside the train, but they died down quickly."
Mr Kurtuldu said passengers broke out of the train and walked along the darkened track with other passengers past by what they believe were three badly damaged front carriages, one of which had been bent out of shape and blown out. They said that there were many injured in front carriages which appeared to take the bulk of the impact of the explosion. They had no idea whether it was a bomb or electrical explosion.
"I walked past one person lying on the tracks. I don't know if they were alright," he said.
Sarah Reid, 23, a student doing work experience, was on the carriage next door to the one which was struck by the same explosion. Speaking after the ordeal, having been led out down the track, near Liverpool Street station, she told how she saw a carriage ripped apart with the roof blown off.
"I think some people may have died," she said. "I was on the train and there was a fire outside the carriage window and then there was a sudden jolt which shook us forward. The explosion was behind me. Some people took charge. We went out of the back of the carriage.
Ms Reid said the explosion happened at around 8.50am but she was not able to get off the carriage until 9.30am. Describing being led away from the scene, she said: "A carriage was split in two, all jagged, and without a roof, just open. I saw bodies, I think."
A CLAYGATE doctor, honoured for helping victims of the July 7 bombings, shared her memories of the terrorist attacks at a meeting last night (Tuesday).
Dr Diane Keith was guest speaker at an Elmbridge Women in Business meeting in Esher. She was awarded a British Transport Police Area Com-mander’s Commendation for helping injured victims of the Aldgate Tube attack, minutes after the suicide bomber had struck. A senior partner at a private general practice in Bishops-gate, Dr Keith and her practice manager ran to the aid of bomb victims without a second thought. She told the News & Mail she could still not understand why she was chosen to be honoured when so many others had also acted courageously on that day. “We arrived at the practice at 8.15am. We are very used to sirens in London but these went on and on,” she said. “We went down to Liverpool Street Station and it was cordoned off. At that stage we thought there had been a train crash.” After asking the police if they needed a doctor at Liverpool Street, Dr Keith was told they were in desperate need of help at Aldgate Tube station, where the situation was dire. She said: “We ran down to the station. I went up to the doctor who was in charge and told him I was ex-Royal Navy. He said: ‘Do what you can’.” When Dr Keith and her colleague arrived at the scene, injured victims were being pulled from the Underground and laid out on the street. She began to assess the wounds of the bomb victims on a bus commandeered by police. “We got them off the bus and into ambulances,” she said. “We didn’t have any equipment, we did what we could.” It was the policeman at the scene who later nominated Dr Keith for the award. After the bus drove the injured to hospital at White-chapel, Dr Keith and her practice manager started to make their way back to their practice. She said: “We were walking down the corner of the road when this policeman said, ‘get down, get down there’s another bomb’. “We were lying on the ground. I said: ‘I’ve got to get back to the practice, I’ll take my chances’.” Despite the danger she faced, Dr Keith felt more angry than frightened by what had happened. She said: “I was very cross that terrorists had tried to infiltrate us. All those poor people were trying to do was get to work. “Why they picked me out for an award, I haven’t a clue. Everybody was trying to help, and the police were absolutely wonderful. It was a real war-time spirit.” Dr Keith said she found her military training invaluable when dealing with such a traumatic situation. “I think it helps to be from that type of background,” she said. “From dealing with injuries to dealing with bereaved relatives, the military training gives that to you. I absolutely thank God for that.” Elmbridge Women in Business was set up to provide members with the opportunity to network and socialise. There are regular meetings every month and previous speakers have included the first British woman to climb Everest, royal correspondent Jennie Bond, and Dame Stella Rimington DCB. Membership costs £50 per year. For more information, visit www.ewib.co.uk.