This article titled “Parsons Green tube explosion: May says threat level remains at severe and rebukes Trump – live updates” was written by Patrick Greenfield (now) Haroon Siddique and Matthew Weaver (earlier), for theguardian.com on Friday 15th September 2017 17.59 UTC
Hammersmith and Fulham council has said Parsons Green residents are returning home.
Chelsea FC have announced extra security measures for their match against Arsenal on Sunday. Parsons Green is near Chelsea’s stadium.
Find the full statement here:
The safety of all fans and visitors to Stamford Bridge is of paramount importance to the club. Following Friday morning’s incident at Parsons Green, and in order to help us fully prepare for the game, the majority of the Stamford Bridge site will remain closed until Sunday morning. This includes Stadium Tours, the Museum, Megastore and the Chelsea Health Club & Spa, while the ticket office will be operating via telephone and online only.
During that time, entrance to the site will be via the Stamford Gate entrance only.
On Sunday, we urge supporters to arrive at least one hour before kick-off to allow for extra security measures. We also request that supporters do not bring bags as this will delay your entry to the stadium.
The club continues to monitor events and liaise with the police and relevant authorities on supporter safety.
Donald Trump has spoken with Theresa May to convey his sympathies and prayers for those injured in the explosion, the White House said in a statement.
The president pledged to continue to collaborate closely with the UK to stop attacks worldwide targeting innocent civilians and to combat extremism, the statement continued.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “President Trump called the prime minister earlier today to offer his condolences over this morning’s cowardly attack in London.”
NHS England says it has now treated 29 patients in relation to the Parsons Green explosion
As of 5.30pm on Friday, NHS England said it had treated 29 patients in relation to the explosion. Of these, 21 remained in hospital and eight had been discharged earlier in the day.
Transport for London says the District line between Earl’s Court and Wimbledon will remain closed for the rest of the day due to the explosion at Parsons Green.
Here’s an updated version of where things currently stand:
While there’s relief in Parsons Green that no one died today, a difficult weekend lies ahead for many people caught up in the attack. Visibly anxious parents have been collecting children from Lady Margaret school which was on lockdown most of the day and face trying to reassure some distraught teenagers, especially those who travel by tube.
But some of the joys of life are also returning. A wedding that was due to take place today in the parish church of St Dionis, which is inside the cordon, is now under way in a neighbouring parish church, according to the Rt Rev Dr Graham Tomlin, bishop of Kensington. He told the Guardian:
We had to move quite quickly because moving a wedding is a slightly complicated legal business, but we managed to make it work so the couple could get married in All Saints church, in the parish next door, and that’s going on right now. It’s a bit of a sign that life can continue and good things happen even in the middle of something really deeply evil like this.
The bishop, whose diocese includes Grenfell Tower, reflected on London’s summer of bad news. While he labelled the attempt to kill children and elderly people today as “evil”, he called for greater efforts to understand terrorists’ mentality.
It has been a really tough summer in London when you think of the London Bridge attacks, Grenfell Tower and this as well. The aim of something like this is either to cause death and injury or to cause fear and to stop people living life normally or to cause division in our communities.
We saw an awful lot of division over Grenfell for very different reasons, and the aim of this sort of thing is to cause the same division. We can’t afford that. It is important that whatever this is doesn’t divide communities against one another. There is too much division in our world right now and we don’t need more.
Sadly this is something that has become part of life in London. While you never want to get used to it, you have to recognise these things are going to happen. Today we are deeply thankful the device didn’t go off in the way it was intended to. We must not normalise it. We have to do everything we can to support the security services and those trying to stop this.
There is a serious step to be made to try and get to the bottom of the mentality that is feeding acts like this. When someone sets out to kill, injure or maim, that is an act of evil. I don’t believe there are irredeemably evil people. But there are evil acts.
As a Christian I am told to pray for my enemies and so I do pray for the person who caused this and how their mind and their heart might be changed. There were lots of children and elderly people on that train and the thought of someone setting out to try and injure and kill children is just hard to get your head around.
Carina Heidrich, who works in Old Street, injured her feet while trying to escape the station. She said:
I just moved to Parsons Green last week. I was actually 10 minutes earlier than normal today for my commute to work.
I was on the tube when suddenly there was a bang to my left and it looked like something burning was flying towards me. It seemed to come from three carriages down from where I was. Then panic erupted and everyone just tried to get out of the tube. There were screams everywhere.
I was standing near the door so I was one of the first people to step out. There were children who were crying and who looked lost. I was wearing slippers, which weren’t the best footwear to run in, and someone stepped on my foot while trying to push past me and scraped the skin off. I just kept running and jumped the barrier. I didn’t turn around until I reached Fulham Road.
At the time I didn’t know what happened and was trying to rationalise it. I found it quite scary to have the helicopters circling for hours this morning but I think they’ve gone now.
Eight patients discharged
All eight patients who were treated at St Thomas’ hospital have been discharged.
Another eight are being treated at Chelsea and Westminster hospital and three each at St Mary’s – which has been stood down from “major incident status” – and the Central London community healthcare walk-in centre in Parsons Green.
Pupils from Lady Margaret girls’ school, which is about 100m from Parsons Green underground station and has been locked down inside the police cordon, have been let out after a highly distressing day.
Emanuella Mensah, 16, described the panic which started the day for many of the girls who travel to school on the train that was attacked:
I was right outside the corner shop when people started running [from the station]. People were shouting ‘run, run’. I saw old people, people with their kids. Then someone shouted ‘terrorist!’. More people kept coming out of the station. There were people sitting on the pavement crying and in hysterics. Schoolgirls were coming from all kinds of directions. The teachers came down and we started escorting people into school.
She said the younger children were particularly shocked and scared and that the distress carried on throughout the day.
Years seven, eight and nine, they were all on the phone trying to call their parents. People were crying everywhere. The teachers were putting them into rooms, giving them water and biscuits, trying to keep them calm. They tried to keep everyone going to their lessons but people couldn’t concentrate.
Similar stories of distress have been emerging from the Lancaster Court community centre inside the cordon, where residents said about 60 people were being cared for after being evacuated from their flats amid fears of a continuing terror threat.
Lauren Saul, 17, who has been volunteering at the centre with her family, said:
People were distraught. I have never seen people so scared. They hadn’t been told anything. They didn’t know if they were going home or if they could contact family. Some didn’t know where their family were. I know someone whose grandson was on the train and he has only just started secondary school. The tensions were very high.
In the wake of the Parsons Green incident, NHS England has highlighted its guidance for coping with stress after such occurrences.
The latest statement by the Met says that an area 50 metres in radius around Parsons Green station has been evacuated as a precaution in case the bomb left on the tube train remains unstable.
A spokesman said:
The evacuation has been necessary whilst specialist officers secure the remnants of the improvised device and ensure it is stable.
A small number of residents will be affected by the evacuation, which encompasses an area approximately 50 metres in radius. Parsons Green tube remains closed and the public are advised to continue to avoid the area.
Here’s what May said about the decision not to increase the threat level to critical:
The threat level remains at severe. That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely. But this will be kept under review as the investigation progresses. The public should go about their daily lives but remain vigilant. People who are travelling in London will see an increase armed police presence on the transport network and security will be increased.
On counter-terrorism measures she said:
The threat of terrorism that we face is severe. But by working together we will defeat them.
We do need to ensure that we are dealing with, not just the terrorist threat but with the extremism and the hate that can actually incite that terrorism. That’s why we are looking very carefully at the powers that our police and security service have to make sure they have the powers they need. But it is also why we are working with the internet companies. The home secretary has visited Silicon Valley … and next week I’ll be co-hosting a session with President Macron from France to talk about what more we can be doing to ensure that we deal with the terrorist propaganda with the hatred that is put out across the internet.
Asked about the London mayor, Sadiq Khan’s call for more police resources, May said:
We have protected police budgets. We also protected counter-terrorism policing and we have ensured that it is possible for the police to increase the number of armed police. I’m pleased to say that once again the emergency service, the police, and others responded immediately and were on the scene immediately and we thank them for their professionalism.
Sky News is reporting that a suspect has been identified by police. A press officer at Scotland Yard said they had no knowledge of this.
Another passenger on the tube was Lauren Wear, who had got on to the District line train at Parsons Green. She was at the rear of the train close to the explosion. She said:
There was a flash from the top to the bottom of the carriage.
Some people had their hair scorched and they were quite close to me.I saw people with burns on their face. When I came out if the station everyone was like looking after each other, asking if they were OK.
The emergency teams were at the station very quickly. I was very shocked. I’m still shaken. Thankfully the train was still on the platform.
Threat level to remain at severe
The prime minister has condemned the suspected attack as “cowardly”.
“This was a device intended to cause significant harm,” Theresa May said in a pooled interview.
Speaking after chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee she added that the threat level will remain at severe, but this will remain under review. Some had speculated that the threat level would increase to critical because the suspected bomber is still at large.
May also rebuked the US president, Donald Trump, over his Parsons Green comments on Twitter. She said: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”
Here’s an updated version of where things currently stand:
Louis Hather, 21, a programmer from London, hurt his leg in the scramble to escape the train. He said:
I was facing away from the bomb when suddenly I heard screams; they were the kind of screams that tell you something serious had happened.
I immediately thought: ‘There’s been a terror attack.’ There was something about the urgency in the way people were trying to get away that made me think that. It was sheer panic.
I knew I had to get out as soon as I could so I ran towards the stairs but everyone was rushing and lots of people were falling along the way. I tried to stay up but was being pushed all over the place. There was a big crush on the stairs, with a pile-up about half way down.
People were falling over each other and being stepped on. I tried to steady myself by putting my arm against the wall. But in the end I fell over and I lost a shoe and my bag in the rush.
Somehow I managed to get out and into the street but my stuff was still inside. I heard someone say that there was a flash and a bang in the carriage and that a chemical covered the carriage.
They said there was a burning smell, like burning plastic. When it was calmer I eventually went back to get my bag and shoe back.
After that I left and sat in the park for a bit and got myself together and went home. I sprained my ankle, and my leg was cut from being dragged along the ground. I think that’s how most of injuries occurred. I know there was a guy standing near the bomb and he got away with a burnt coat and I imagine most of the injuries will be down to the crushing.
I feel OK now. I have calmed down from earlier. I have realised it’s not as bad as it could have been and we are lucky. It’s something you don’t expect to happen to you. I was just on my normal commute in and the train was rammed. We were stuck in like sardines. There were so many children going to school on that train. We are so lucky that it seems the bomb did not go off properly.
One possibility is that the detonator did not set off the main charge, causing the flash and the heat which inflicted burns on casualties but not a powerful blast which would have been much more destructive.
This has happened before: on 21 July 2005 when a series of bombs hidden in backpacks and placed on tube trains by a network of Islamic militants failed to go off.
That attack came just two weeks after 52 were killed in the 7/7 multiple suicide bombing in London targeting public transport. Police rapidly traced those responsible for the abortive attempt and detained them. Analysis found the home-made explosive they had manufactured had not ignited.
The incompetence of terrorists has been one of the key factors that has spared hundreds of lives in recent years. The recent tragic attacks in Barcelona could have been much worse if the leader of the plot had not blown himself up – along with the network’s stockpile of bomb components – hours before they occurred.
Among the many failed incidents in the UK are attempts to bomb a cafe in Exeter (that failed when a bomber set off his own device in a toilet); to bomb a nightclub in London with incendiary devices (that smouldered but did not burn), and to bring down a transatlantic passenger jet (with a bomb in a shoe that proved impossible to ignite).
In the US, a massive blast was avoided in Times Square, New York, because the bomber programmed the wrong time, while in Yemen in 2000 an attempt to sink a US navy ship failed when a dinghy overloaded with explosives sank when it was launched.
The same goes for attacks by extremists motivated by other ideologies. Well under a half of the 150 far-right plots recorded by the Anti-Defamation League in the US between 1993 and 2016 succeeded. In Columbus, Ohio, in April 2016 a rightwing extremist blew his own hands off while allegedly making explosive which authorities said was to be used as a diversion during a bank robbery.
In an incident in Spokane, Washington, in 2011, the FBI arrested a white supremacist who planted a pipe bomb on the route of a Martin Luther King Day parade. It failed to detonate.
Counter-terrorist specialists in the west recognise that the “Four Lions factor” – a reference to the 2010 black comedy by Chris Morris which shows the incompetent attempt by a group of Britons to launch a terrorist campaign – is one of the most important defences against attack.
Putting pressure on safe havens overseas to limit the ability of terrorist groups to provide training, stopping militants from travelling to those that do still exist, increasing the pressure on local networks and limiting communication with expert handlers, while of course making it harder to obtain crucial ingredients for bombs all help ensure potential attackers remain without the means to realise their destructive ambitions.
So too does the elimination of key individuals with high levels of expertise. Western and Middle Eastern intelligence agencies have been trying for years to kill Ibrahim al-Asiri, an al-Qaida extremist in Yemen responsible for a series of ingenious devices which have come close repeatedly to causing appalling destruction. One device would have brought down a passenger plane over the US in 2009 if the bomber had been able to ignite it.
Asiri is at large, despite the decade-long effort to kill or capture him. And so is whoever was responsible for the device left on the tube train in London today.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, expressed the city’s solidarity with London, pointing out that memories of last month’s terrorist atrocities in Catalonia were still fresh.
Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, tweeted: “I want to express Spain’s solidarity with, and support for, the British people and authorities. I hope those injured make a swift recovery.”
19 injured people taken to hospital
London ambulance service nows says 19 people were taken to hospital (up from 18 earlier today). Earlier, NHS England said another four injured people had self-presented. It has since said only three people self-presented.
Most of those treated had “minor injuries,” according to Natasha Wills, director of operations for the London ambulance service.
This image was posted on Facebook less than an hour after the incident as staff a St Mary’s hospital in Paddington waited for the injured to arrive.
Vanesa Garlo Rey wrote: “This is what our NHS looks like in response to a major incident. This is St Mary’s hospital today but I hold no doubt many other hospitals across London too. Once again hats off to the Met police and frontline emergency services. Proud to work with such amazing colleagues.”
Two of the hospital trusts involved in the response – Guy’s and St Thomas’, and Imperial – have said their services are now running as normal.
Supermarket Lidl has offered to help police after one of its bags was apparently used to hold the improvised bomb, PA reports.
The German-owned grocery chain issued a statement just hours after social media photos of the affected District line carriage showed a still-burning bucket inside a Lidl-branded reusable bag.
“We are shocked and concerned to have learned of an incident at Parsons Green this morning and our thoughts are with those affected,” Lidl UK said.
“We will, of course, support the authorities should they need our assistance in their investigations. We are closely monitoring the situation as it develops over the course of the day.”
Circuit board recovered from scene
Investigators have recovered what appears to be a circuit board from the scene where the device was placed.
It is being examined for clues.
The BBC security correspondent, Frank Gardner, says the security threat level could be raised from severe to critical if the intelligences services conclude that the suspected bomber is still on the loose.
Scotland Yard has confirmed that no one has been arrested so far.
The UK terrorism threat level is currently at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. If it goes critical this would mean an attack is expected imminently.
The government’s emergency committee, Cobra, is meeting this afternoon. It is expected to make a decision about whether the threat level should change.
Here’s more on Trump’s reaction to the explosion.
Other world leaders used more diplomatic language.
In the UK, leaders past and present have added their thoughts.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has condemned the suspected attack as “callous and indiscriminate”.
More than 250 people were evacuated from a London Underground train not involved in the incident, the London fire brigade has revealed.
Its director of operations, Tom George, said:
“The brigade was called at 08:21 and firefighters were on the scene within three minutes. Fire crews assisted the London ambulance service in treating casualties on the affected train.
“Firefighters also helped evacuate 253 people from a train not involved in the incident. We continue to support the Metropolitan police and other services at Parsons Green.”
Both BBC and Sky News have been told that the IED had a timer fitted.
The Guardian has so far been unable to confirm these reports.
The official line from the Met is that a fire was caused by the detonation of an improvised device.
No arrests have so far been made, Scotland Yard has confirmed.
In its latest statement the Met said:
So far there have been no arrests.
We believe the fire was caused by the detonation of an improvised device, which is being forensically examined.
Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, from the head of national counter-terrorism policing, said: “There are many urgent inquiries ongoing, with hundreds of detectives involved, looking at CCTV, carrying out forensic work and speaking to witnesses.
“I am appealing for anyone who has information that would assist detectives to contact the hotline on 0800 789 321. I would also urge anyone with images or moving footage from the scene to upload them at www.ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk.
“Today and over the weekend the public can expect to see a heightened police presence, particularly in crowded places and at transport hubs.
“As always, we urge the public to remain calm but alert; if they have any concerns, see or hear anything suspicious then please contact the police on the confidential hotline 0800 789 321. In an emergency always call 999.”
Mayor confirms ‘manhunt underway’
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has told LBC radio: “There is a manhunt underway as we speak.”
He said he was not allowed to say whether that meant a specific suspect was being sought.
Earlier, speaking outside New Scotland Yard, Mark Rowley, the assistant Met commissioner, declined to answer questions about whether anyone was in custody.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has joined in condemnation of the attack:
Once more people going about their everyday lives have been targeted in a callous and indiscriminate way. My thoughts are with all those injured and affected.
The police and emergency services were quickly on the scene and I would like to pay tribute again to their professionalism and tireless commitment.
I am receiving regular updates on what is an ongoing and active investigation. I would urge Londoners to remain alert and assist the police and emergency services as much as they can.
A massive search is under way for whoever planted the home-made device on the tube carriage at Parsons Green.
Detectives were examining CCTV from the London Underground network to determine where the perpetrators entered and exited the tube system.
The tube network and London generally are well covered by CCTV cameras.
The investigation, led by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command and involving MI5, the domestic security service, will want to arrest those suspected of involvement in the attack before they can strike again.
The improvised explosive device will be examined by forensic experts, and may provide clues from its construction and the chemicals used to make the explosive charge.
Looking at why it did not fully detonate will give them clues as well.
Counter-terrorism investigators are looking specifically for whoever carried the device, pictured on social media as being in a bucket, on to the tube carriage. They will also want to know how it was detonated – in person or somehow remotely?
Furthermore, they will want to establish where the device was put together, and where the materials to make it were acquired from.
Other key question are whether knowledge of how to build the device was obtained from a plethora of DIY guides on the internet, or from another person.
Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said hundreds of detectives had been drafted into the investigation.
The explosion at Parsons Green is the fifth terrorist attack to get through Britain’s defences since March 2017. Two in London and a bombing in Manchester were blamed on Islamist terrorism. A van attack in June was blamed on rightwing extremism.
The terrorism threat level is set by the joint terrorism analysis centre (JTAC), which sits within MI5. In the immediate hours after the Parsons Green incident the threat remained at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.
It was last raised to its maximum level in May for several days, after the suicide bombing attack on Manchester Arena, as investigators tried to satisfy themselves there were no bomb-making materials or suspects still at large, and thus intending and capable of attacking again.
Similarly, after Parsons Green, senior counter-terrorism officials will want to gain control of any suspects and/or materials related to the attack.
The Met has video of that Mark Rowley statement (see earlier for the text).
NHS: 22 injured
NHS England said 22 people are now being treated by four hospital trusts across London.
London ambulance service took 18 patients to hospital, while another four self-presented.
South African Gillian Wixley, 36, who lives in Putney, was eight seats from the explosion. She said:
I first heard a loud bang, followed by smoke and fire rising upwards. I was about eight seats away from where the explosion happened and immediately everyone started rushing off the train. It was chaotic: things were flying everywhere and people were falling over as they got off. There was lots of people panicking and people were injured due to the crush.
It wasn’t a big explosion, more of a bang and then there was fire. It all happened very quickly.
I heard a girl screaming, ‘Get off the train!’ Everyone rushed out and as I looked back I could see flames going up the wall. I was near the back of the train but toward the front people were running towards the exit. We were more worried about doing this because moving forward would mean moving past where the fire was.
By the time I got to the stairs, for some reason they were not letting people down – maybe because of the crush of everyone trying to get out. But people were panicking and wanted to go know why they couldn’t move forward.
One woman came up and I could see that the whole of her hair on one side was singed. She was holding her ear and saying: ‘I have to get out.’ Everyone responded very swiftly and moved aside so she could get down to get help.
Everyone was very emotional. There was one boy maybe age 10 who was commuting to school on his own. He was sitting on the floor sobbing.
He was obviously in shock and very scared. Everyone around him was trying to calm him down and help him.
When I got out I sat on bench in the park. I was really in shock and everyone was just crying. I started to feel relieved I had escaped.
I had not taken my normal commute route today. I was on my way to north London today to go on a volunteering day, working in a school for disabled children. I usually go to Bank station, so I don’t take the District and Circle line. I work in the City for a bank.
I am very shaken up and still in shock about everything that happened this morning. Not looking forward to getting on a train again, but you have to just get on with things. The explosion happened on a platform, which is lucky – if you can say that. I am grateful it wasn’t worse.
Stephen Cowan, leader of the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has described the attack as “disgusting” but praised the police and emergency services and appealed to the public for for calm.
Speaking at the police cordon on Darlan Road, a couple of hundred of metres from where the Parsons Green attack happened, he said: “The police and all the emergency services have put in a very co-ordinated response. They were straight down there to reassure people and also to track down what had happened.
“It is being treated as a terrorist incident as you would expect, but I would stress that people should remain calm and the situation is completely under control. I think that people that express themselves through terror, it’s atrocious and is anti everything we stand for and they should be tracked down and dealt with in the severest possible terms. The real issue is that London is a vibrant city and people are living side by side and working well and living well together and we should never let anyone do anything that threatens that culture.
“Any terrorist attack is absolutely atrocious and a threat to the values we stand for, and it is disgusting what happened and that is why there has been a very co-ordinated response. The police and emergency services have once again acted extremely effectively and they have the area on lockdown and they are dealing with the incident … We will never give in to this type of terrorism”
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust has activated a major incident plan.
Police sources are playing down fears of a coordinated attack across the London transport network.
On the train itself there is only one device being investigated. There is no second device.
Sources also denied there was a knifeman on the train and said there was was no known further incident after the initial discovery of the IED.
There is no belief that some sort of general bombing campaign of London’s transport network, such as 7/7 and 21/7 is under way. It is being treated as an isolated incident.
Witness describes wires on suspected IED
Rory Rigney said he had just got on the tube train – one of the last to board – when the explosion happened only a few feet away.
“I thought, ‘Did someone smash something?’ It sounded like a smash, then I heard a scream and thought ‘it’s someone having a fight’. Then I saw the fireball coming towards me – yellow or orange. My face still feels warm. I wasn’t hanging around to get a better look at it,” he told reporters.
Rigney added: “It smelled like a fire extinguisher and there was this foam on the floor. It looked like foam from a fire extinguisher. And he described seeing “red wires” coming out of the bucket in the Lidl plastic bag.
The 37-year-old from Dublin said he saw one woman who “looked like she had been burnt – they were pouring water on her face – and an older couple who weren’t as bad”.
He described jumping off the train through the still-open doors as the fireball came towards him.
The explosion, he said, “wasn’t massively loud but then there was a scream and then I looked down the corridor and there was a big flash of light coming down and my immediate reaction was just to jump”.
Rigney told reporters: “The doors were still open, so I jumped out and tried to get as far away as possible, got on the ground and covered myself. I looked back and, obviously, there were so many people trying to get out they were falling on top of each other, so there was a bit of a crush at the door. People were just panicking getting away and there was a lot of screaming.
“For the next, probably, 30 seconds, a minute, people were just getting on the ground. They didn’t know what to do, there was a lot of fear. I think about a minute or so passed, people [were] wondering actually what happened. We couldn’t say what kind of bang it was. There was still a smell … No one was sure if it was an electrical explosion just from something on the train, so no one was – at that stage – thinking anything more sinister than that.
“We just stayed around and people were grabbing their bags and phones from the train … then we were being told to get off the platform, so that was … up to five minutes till then and, at that stage, when we started moving down the stairs, we also saw the armed police coming up the other side.
“When we got out, the emergency services were there … and they were starting to cordon off the area and police were starting to take interviews from any people on the train who had information.”
Donald Trump has urged the British police to be “proactive” in tackling terrorism. Here are his latest tweets:
After the London Bridge attack in June, Trump criticised London mayor Sadiq Khan suggesting he was wrong to call for calm.
Here’s what Rowley said:
At 8.20 this morning at Parsons Green tube station there was an explosion on a tube train. Police have attended. We now assess that this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device.
As you will have seen, there are reports of 18 injuries. I understand most of those to be flash burns. The scene currently remains cordoned off and the investigation continues.
The investigation is being led by the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command. And there are many urgent inquiries ongoing now with hundreds of detectives involved looking at CCTV, forensics work and speaking to witnesses.
This investigation is supported by our colleagues from MI5 bringing their intelligence expertise to bear on the case.
Londoners can expect to see an enhanced police presence, particularly across the transport system across today.
Any member of the public with any information about this incident should please call us as a matter of urgency. If they want to give us any background information they can call us on the anti-terrorism hotline on 0800 789 321.
Anybody with images from the incident can contact us.
I would ask the public to remain vigilant across London, but not to be alarmed.
Asked if anyone was in custody, Rowley said: “It is very much a live investigation we are following down the lines of inquiry I said.”
Police: suspected IED investigated
Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley says a suspected improvised explosive device, or IED, is thought to be responsible for the blast.
Speaking at Scotland Yard he said more police would be deployed across London particularly on the transport network.
He refused to say whether anyone had been arrested.
Met police sources have said the device only partially exploded.
Initial examination of the device by explosive experts have led them to conclude it was “viable”, meaning it was meant to explode more fully.
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he is praying for those caught up in the incident.
Londoners have offered to “put the kettle on” for people affected by the explosion in Parsons Green, PA reports.
As the station was evacuated and hordes of people flooded the area, Katy Dunn posted on Twitter: “If anyone is feeling shocked or confused at Parsons Green, I’m round the corner and the kettle’s on.”
James Edge tweeted: “Anyone who’s now stuck in Parsons Green/Fulham drop me a line and I’ll get the kettle on!”
Chelsea and Fulham Dentist, a five-minute walk away from the tube station, also offered people a place to shelter.
Dentist Dahlia Sunba, who co-owns the practice with her husband, said: “I could see people wandering around aimlessly.
“We can see helicopters overhead. It’s a little bit unnerving and people look slightly distressed. We have tea and coffee and biscuits. We’re more than happy to give them a cup of tea or coffee.”
18 people injured
London ambulance service said 18 people had been taken to hospital following the explosion at Parsons Green.
None were thought to be in a serious or life-threatening condition, it said in its latest update.
It confirmed that its hazardous area response team was on the scene.
Here’s a full report on what we know so far:
Police forensic officers have been seen investigating trains where the explosion took place.
Kevin Fitzgerald who lives next to the station witnessed the aftermath.
I can see the tube platform at Parsons Green from my window where I live. As I was taking my son to school I opened my front door and suddenly heard lots of passengers screaming on the tube platform, which is above ground.
My entire street filled with people leaving the station in a panic.
Lots of people were running, some were crying and others were just walking really fast. They were all pouring out and I was worried something serious going on.
I took my son back into the house to keep him safe and then went outside to find out more about what was happening. There was just so much confusion, some rumours were being spread about a knife man on the loose but I don’t think that was true. I live near the back end of tube so I am guessing most people were leaving via the front entrance.
I have no idea how many people would have been injured but someone came out and said someone had been burned. There was one woman in floods of tears walking toward me and guy behind her on bike, and he was saying “it’s just an accident don’t worry”.
No one knew what was happening and even though many people were leaving, some were still on the platforms. I don’t know whether they were hurt or witnesses but they were wandering up and down.
Our street is now cordoned off and the police have told us to leave the house. My children are at school and we believe this is the safest place for them in the meantime.
Olaniyi Shokumbi, 24, a fitness instructor, had joined the District line tube on the way to work. He said: “I had my headphones on and was listening to music. The train had got to Parsons Green. Some people had got off, some had got on.
“I looked to my left and I saw hundreds of people running up. I heard shouting and screaming. I ran out as well.
“It was tightly packed as we were all trying to get out of the station at the same time. People were pushing each other, falling on the floor. There were school kids.
“I saw people jumping not caring where they landed or whether they broke bones. They were leaping over the barriers.”
Amid the panic, he said he saw a woman on the floor. “I didn’t know whether she was breathing. There was a little boy on the train station, screaming and crying and saying he couldn’t find his little brother.”
Shokumbi continued: “Coming out of the station, I initially thought it was an acid attack. I didn’t hear the explosion because I had my headphones on.”
“I went to check my sister was alright at Lady Margaret school. Some girls had still not arrived and registered.”
Shokumbi said the train had just started to move when the explosion occurred. “I just hope no one has lost their life.
“I feel sorry for a lot of people. There was kids falling on the floor. It was crazy. It’s the time kids all go to school.
“People started running from the back end of the train. I was about two or three carriages away. There was a lot of people running out.”
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the city “utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life”.
He urged Londoners to “remain calm and vigilant”.
A major incident has been declared at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington in response to the Parsons Green explosion.
The United Kingdom terrorism threat level is at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Since March 2017 at least three attacks blamed on an Islamist motivation have claimed lives in Britain, with officials saying that a further six plots have been thwarted. One attack in June was blamed on an extreme right wing motivation.
On Thursday, reacting to news of a 68% increase in terrorism related arrests, the senior national coordinator for counter terrorism policing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said:“There is no doubt that since March and following the attacks in London and Manchester we have seen a shift-change in momentum. But while the terrorist threat has increased in recent months, so has our activity; reflected by this significant increase in arrests.
“We’re taking every possible opportunity to disrupt terrorist activity – be it making arrests for terrorism offences, intervening where there are signs of radicalisation, or working with communities to prevent terrorists operating in their area.
“Police, together with the security services are determined to make the UK as hostile an environment for terrorists as possible.”
Police say there have been a total of 19 foiled plots since June 2013.
A police helicopter hovered low over Fulham Road which has been closed. Only ambulances and police cars are being allowed through.
Buses that had their journeys abruptly terminated this morning are parked, empty, on the side of the road, beyond the security tapes.
Flats and homes in a large area beyond the tube station are being evacuated.
Peter, one of those injured in the incident, said his hair was singed and head burned by a “fireball”.
Speaking to BBC News as he waited to be treated in a carpet shop in Wandsworth Bridge Road, he said:
I heard a large bang on the other side of the tube train. Then this fireball above my head has come and singed all my hair. I’ve got burn marks to the top of my head. Everyone just ran off the train. It was quite scary.
It was a really hot intense fireball above my head. There was a lot of people a lot worse than me. I saw a gentleman in a puffer jacket and the whole back of that had been burned. He had burn marks across his face which were a lot worse than mine.
Mostly it was facial injuries, I didn’t see any blood as such.
It was sheer panic. Everyone jumped off the train.
New video shows passengers being evacuated from a tube train near Parsons Green.
In a statement, Theresa May said: “My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and the emergency services who, once again, are responding swiftly and bravely to a suspected terrorist incident.”
PM to chair Cobra meeting
Theresa May is to chair a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee this afternoon to discuss the terrorist incident at Parsons Green, Downing Street announced.
Police confirming injuries
Neil Basu, Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner, the senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, has confirmed this is a terrorist incident.
In a statement the Met added that “a number of people” had suffered injuries. It said:
It is too early to confirm the cause of the fire, which will be subject to the investigation that is now under way by the Met’s counter-terrorism command.
The station remains cordoned off and we are advising people to avoid the area.
Anyone who has information that would assist detectives is urged to contact the hotline 0800 789 321; if it’s an emergency always call 999.
Anyone with images from the scene is asked to upload them to www.ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk
We urge the public to remain calm but alert and if you have any concerns, see or hear anything suspicious then contact police.
Police closed off the southern end of Kelvedon Road with tapes. Gautham Krishna was waiting at the tape to collect his daughter from Kensington Prep School which is behind the security cordon.
“There’s a report of something else possibly in there,’” he said. “The girls and my wife are in there. They are doing great a security sweep.”
Police declare terrorist incident
The Metropolitan police have declared it a terrorist incident while investigations continue.
British Transport Police has urged the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he is in contact with Scotland Yard about the incident.
A young man, who declined to give his name, said he was on the tube at Parsons Green when the incident happened. He said:
I left my flat this morning and walked down to the tube. It was about 8.15am. I got onto the first carriage of the train. It was heading into town, towards Earl’s Court.
There was a terrible commotion and crying and stuff. They kept us on the train for five minutes and then they evacuated the station.
I walked back to my flat [in nearby Kelvedon Road] but then the police came and told us to leave our homes. They have closed everything off. There are reports of another device.
Passengers on the train behind the one that had the explosion witnessed terrified passengers sprinting away up the tracks, PA reports.
They were then held in their train for over an hour before being evacuated on to the tracks themselves. Nicole Linnell, 29, who works for a fashion label, said:
We saw people running down the tracks. About 30 or 40 people.
They were running down the tracks outside our train. It was absolutely terrifying. Running on the tracks is the last thing you want to do so we were like ‘What’s going on?’
After about an hour we were evacuated off the train on to the tracks. About 10 to 15 people at a time.
Counter terrorism officers lead investigation
Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, S0 15, has taken the lead in the investigation, in an early indication about a possible motive.
The inquiry into the explosion was initially led by British Transport Police [BTP].
A police source said a “major incident” has been declared by BTP.
Sylvain Pennec, a software developer from Southfields, near Wimbledon, was around 10 metres from the source of the explosion when fire filled the carriage.
“I heard a boom and when I looked there were flames all around,” he said. “People started to run but we were lucky to be stopping at Parsons Green as the door started to open.”
He described the scene of panic as commuters struggled to escape the carriage, “collapsing and pushing” each other.
Pennec stayed behind to take a closer look at what he believed was the source of the explosion.
“It looked like a bucket of mayonnaise,” he said. “I’m not sure if it was a chemical reaction or something else, but it looked home made. I’m not an expert though.”
PM ‘receiving regular updates’
Downing Street said Prime Minister Theresa May was “receiving regular updates” on the situation at Parsons Green.
Passengers were seen being led off a train at Parsons Green, according to a series of images by Twitter user Laura G.
Video has emerged showing a bucket on fire on a tube train as London Underground staff urged passengers to “get away”.
Passengers reported seeing a device on a tube train at the station and hearing a bang during the Friday morning rush hour.
One passenger, named only as Lucas, told BBC 5 live:
I heard a really loud explosion – when I looked back there appeared to be a bag but I don’t know if it’s associated with it.
I saw people with minor injuries, burnings to the face, arms, legs, multiple casualties in that way. People were helping each other.
The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has appealed for calm.
Speaking to Sky News he said:
I’m afraid my information is limited and it really is important not to speculate at the moment. Everybody should keep calm and go about their lives in as normal a way as they possible can. The British Transport Police, TFL are on it. And they will be updating their websites as and when we get more information.
Witness Sham Shakil told BBC News that he saw several people “falling over themselves” as they tried to get out of Parsons Green station.
London fire brigade said it had sent six fire engines and 50 firefighters to the incident.
Fire crews from Fulham, Wandsworth, Chelsea, Hammersmith and other surrounding fire stations were in attendance, it said in statement.
The tube service has been partially suspended in west London after reports of an explosion and injuries Parsons Green underground station.
A Transport for London spokeswoman said the District line had been suspended between Earl’s Court and Wimbledon due to a security alert.
The Metropolitan and British Transport police forces, including armed officers, were at the scene, along with the London ambulance service, though none was immediately able to provide further details on what had happened.
A witness said there were injuries at the station after a “stampede” of passengers.
BBC news reader Sophie Raworth said she had seen a woman with burns “from top to toe” being stretchered into an ambulance.
Media technology consultant Richard Aylmer-Hall, 53, was sitting on the District line train bound for central London at about 8.20am when he said panic unfolded around him.
“Suddenly there was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming, lots of screaming,” he said. “There was a woman on the platform who said she had seen a bag, a flash and a bang, so obviously something had gone off.”
He added: “I saw crying women, there was lots of shouting and screaming, there was a bit of a crush on the stairs going down to the streets. Some people got pushed over and trampled on. I saw two women being treated by ambulance crews.”
Armed police are at the scene.
London Ambulance Service said it had sent multiple resources to the scene including a hazardous area response team.
We will bring you more details here as soon as we have them.
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