Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Remembering 7/7 - 3 years later

Photo taken at Russell Square. Grabbed from Google.

Its the 3rd anniversary of the 7 July bombings in London. Three bombs exploded within 50 seconds on London Underground, and the fourth bomb on a bus at Tavistock Square.

The first bomb exploded on an eastbound Circle Line which had just left Kings Cross Station 8 minutes earlier. At the time of the explosion, the third carriage of the train was down the tunnel from Liverpool Street.

The second bomb exploded on the second carriage of a westbound Circle Line Underground train. The train had just left platform 4 at Edgware Road and was heading for Paddington. The train had left King's Cross St. Pancras about eight minutes earlier.

The third bomb exploded on a southbound Piccadilly Line deep-level Underground train, travelling between King's Cross St. Pancras and Russell Square. The bomb exploded about one minute after the train left King's Cross.

An explosion occurred in Tavistock Square on a No. 30 double-decker bus, operated by Stagecoach London travelling its route from Marble Arch to Hackney Wick.

I will never forget that incident.

On 7 July, I slept late till 12+ noon. We (Shirley and I) had earlier planned to go to Barclays Bank at Leicester Square. But I overslept. Thank God for that or I might have taken one of the tube or either way be in Central that day. Instead, we were at home watching Meteor Garden on Shirley's laptop.

Rakesh called me first around 1pm and said that there was a bomb at Kings Cross and he called to see if I was all right. He said he knows I sometimes work the morning shift so he called to check if I'm all right. I laughed at him because obviously my first reaction would be: yea right. You must be kidding. He must've thought I was so rude after I hung up the phone. FYI, I worked at McDonalds Kings Cross. The MCD is located just directly above the underground station. Right at the exit of the station.

Me in my new McDonalds uniform. First day at work.

Few minutes later my parents called from Malaysia frantic with fear. My dad was angry when he asked me: why did it take so long to get through my phone. Apparently, they'd been trying for some time to call me but the lines were down. They informed me about the bomb blasts around central London. My sister read out the names of the places: Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Russell Square etc. I was shocked and only then reality hits. After reassuring our parents we were safe and that we'd be careful, we took out Shirley's mobile to listen to the radio.

Daddy and mummy

At that time, our house has no internet connection yet so we had no way of knowing anything.

Next day, I skipped class, but I went to work. Idiot. Now I think back, how I dared to go to work at Kings Cross McD? I normally take a bus or tube to work. I asked my boss (Bash) whether it was safe. He said yes, but don't take the tube. Take the bus, and be careful if you see people with backpacks, big bags etc.

I walked from Finsbury Park in search of a bus but roads were all closed or else bus diverted. The more I walked, the more roads were closed. I ended up joining a lot of people walking on the roads in search of buses. In the end, I walked all the way to Kings Cross McD.

On arrival my colleagues were all discussing who were at work yesterday and what happened. Martina and Bash both worked yesterday morning and took the tube to Kings Cross. They were among the lucky ones; the missed the tube with the suicide bombers.

One of my housemate was on the tube that day on the way to work. She said the tube wasn't bombed but it stopped at no stations. The Piccadilly line train she boarded from Finsbury Park didn't stop at any stations but went all the way till south london. Apparently the driver wanted to go as far away as possible.

Kings Cross the day after the bombings was packed full with policemen, and media from all over the world. Everyday police were stationed right outside the store on horses. At work, I watch the news being broadcast right from outside the McD doorstep live to the world. Inside joke at the store for everyone was of course, who wants to get on tv? Just go outside.

For the first few days, most McD customers were the police and journalists only. During these few days, there were a lot of bomb warnings around Kings Cross still. We were forced to evacuate the store, close the store, hide in the back room while the police closed the roads because of yet another warning of bomb around King Cross.

Once, the police came in store and started evacuating everyone. This guy I was serving insisted I gave him his Big Mac or money back before he left. I was scared man. Colleagues had all ran to the back while I was arguing with this man. Police shooed him out in the end. Idiot.

After a few times, these evacuations became routine. We closed the store and went to the back room as no one was allowed in front. In the back room, we turned on the tv to watch the news outside, and settled in to eat. This was McD, we had plenty of food. I remember Bash went around asking: who's hungry? who wants deli sandwich? Whereas another Korean girl (Uni) was saying: what's happening? what's going on? oh my God. I don't want to die. I don't want to die with hamburgers and french fries. It was so funny the way she said it.

I made it sound light and humorous when its not. A lot of people were afraid to take the tube after that incident. For a long time after that, I was still wary of people carrying bags or of abandoned bags at stations. 52 people have died in those attacks and 700 injured.

That was 3 years ago.

Today, hundreds of commuters and survivors stood silently as Mayor Boris Johnson and others laid flowers outside King's Cross train and subway station at 8:50 a.m. three years after the attacks in 2005.

These series of suicide bomb explosions constituted the largest and deadliest terrorist attack on London's transit system in its history. Let's hope and pray its the last.

Shirley and I on the bus. 3 years ago.

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