An explosion in one of London's underground trains set off panic and confusion on Friday morning. At approximately 8 a.m. local time, the explosion went off in a train leaving the Parsons Green station, resulting in several injuries and widespread interruption to London's Underground schedule. After a rapid investigation into the source of the explosion, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police has now labeled the London Underground explosion at Parsons Green a "terrorist incident."
The London Ambulance Service issued a memo confirming it has transported 18 people injured by the blast at Parsons Green to the hospital. According to the most recent information available, none of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries.
The device allegedly responsible for the attack is being called a "bucket bomb" by The Guardian. Witnesses report a blast going off in one of the carriages on the District Line as it left Parsons Green Station. Passengers scrambled to exit the train, a crush that may have caused some of the subsequent injuries.
Video footage on YouTube purportedly taken in the aftermath of the explosion shows a white bucket containing a small fire within an open bag. This aligns with what several witnesses described after escaping the explosion.
Police now say they suspect the blast came from an improvised explosive device. Mark Rowley, the assistant commissioner, stated that hundreds of detectives are now at work on the case. Speaking from Scotland Yard, Rowley did not say whether or not any arrests have yet been made.
Bomb experts have also indicated that the suspected IED did not "fully detonate." The damage could have been far greater, had the so-called "bucket bomb" gone off to its intended effect.
Witness accounts describe an already terrifying scenario following the blast. Ben Lee reports that as his train stopped, a mob of escaping passengers came running down the station platform. “The most worrying part of it was the rush to get off the platform... It was a stairs-only exit ... it could have been a classic crush situation,” Lee told The Wall Street Journal.
Ola Fayankinnu, a passenger on the train when the explosion happened, told Reuters, "I was on second carriage from the back. I just heard a kind of whoosh. I looked up and saw the whole carriage engulfed in flames making its way toward me." Another passeneger, Rory Rigney, told The Guardian, "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."
British leaders and authorities have offered their condolences to the victims, along with updates on investigations underway into the Parsons Green explosion. Prime Minister Theresa May will be leading a meeting with her government's emergency response committee, Cobra, on Friday afternoon. May also expressed her sympathy for the victims of Friday's attack, as well as sent her thoughts out to first responders.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan stated, "Our City utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life. As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism."
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also tweeted a message of prayer for those hurt by the blast, writing, "Praying for all those caught up in this morning's terror incident at #ParsonsGreen."
Unlike the 2005 coordinated string of attacks on London public transportation, police do not currently suspect the explosion at Parsons Green Station to be part of a larger operation. They believe the Friday morning attack to be an isolated incident.