There’s been another terrorist attack this morning. Some passengers on a London tube train suffered injuries as a device inside a supermarket bag exploded on a train that was travelling eastbound from Wimbledon and was just arriving at Parsons Green station. Passengers fled from the train and ran for their lives. One witness confirmed that people were piling on top of each other because some of them fell over whilst trying to run too quickly in the crush on the stairs leading to the street. She stated that there were two ladies underneath her, and one little boy to her right whose head had been smacked into the concrete.
This has echoes of the wartime disaster at Bethnal Green tube station. The station was still being built during the war, and had been converted into a kind of subterranean town. There was even a hospital and a library down there, plus chemical toilets, a canteen, and about 5000 bunk beds. During the air raids whole families would run down a couple of flights of steps towards the escalators leading down to the safety of the platforms. The first flight of steps was slit by a single 25 watt bulb. The steps were slippery due to recent rain, and there was no central rail.
Convinced that enemy aircraft were nearby, the air raid siren sounded and a battery at nearby Victoria Park fired rockets, which panicked the people descending the stairs. A woman carrying a baby tripped, and an elderly man tripped over her. Before they could get up, others were falling over them. Piled ten deep, people ran out of breath and 173 people, mostly women and children, were asphyxiated. My mother Dot and her own mother Elsie could have been amongst the dead, but on that night they had decided to stay in their flat as they hated the smell and the crowding down on the platforms.
Although this morning’s event caused injuries to 22 people, it thankfully did not cost any lives. However, it still goes to show what panic can do, and, apart from the odd have-a-go hero/heroine in these situations, how it all comes down to survival of the fittest and strongest. Faced with a life or death situation, it’s usually every man/woman for themselves. I hope the two ladies mentioned and the little boy who was trampled on this morning make a speedy recovery. The memory of the event will stay in their minds forever, and may even prevent them from ever wanting to travel on a tube train again. For me, if I never travel on a tube train again it’ll be too soon.