LONDON: Several people were injured at a London underground station on Friday after witnesses reported a blast on a packed rush-hour commuter train which police were treating as a terrorism incident.
Emergency services said they had been called to reports of a fire on a train at Parsons Green station in West London at 8.20 a.m. (0720 GMT)
“It is too early to confirm the cause of the fire, which will be subject to the investigation that is now underway by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command,” London police said in a statement.
Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, had declared it a terrorist incident, the statement said.
The Metro newspaper reported that passengers had suffered facial burns from a blast and others had been hurt in a subsequent stampede.
An unverified picture circulating on social media showed a white bucket with a supermarket freezer bag on the floor of one train carriage. The bucket was in flames and there appeared to be wires coming out of the top.
“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 towards me,” Ola Fayankinnu, who was on the train, told Reuters.
“A lot of people were trampled on. There were phones, hats, bags all over the place and when I looked back I saw a bag with flames. People were crying, shocked, a few people had been injured, some people had been trampled.”
Outside the station, a woman was sitting on a pavement with a bandage around her leg, while armed police patrolled. A Reuters witness saw a woman being carried off on a stretcher with her legs covered in a foil blanket.
“We are aware of an incident at #ParsonsGreen tube station. Officers are in attendance,” London police said on Twitter. “We would advise people to avoid the area.”
Police said they were aware of reports on social media but said they would release facts regarding the incident once they could be sure of their accuracy.
“Everybody should keep calm and go about their lives in as normal a way as they possibly can,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told BBC TV.
Television footage showed passengers being escorted off a carriage while a Reuters witness saw armed police scouring a stationary train.
A Reuters witness could see a bomb disposal unit at the scene while the fire brigade said it had sent six engines and 50 firefighters. London
Ambulance said it had sent “multiple resources” including its hazardous area response team to the scene.
“Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries,” it said.
Transport for London said on Twitter there was no service on the western part of the District Line which runs through Parsons Green.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is contact with police and emergency services over the incident.
Passengers were seen badly burned and covered in blood after the incident.
Witnesses reported seeing passengers with facial burns and hair coming off at the station and seeing a fire or hearing an explosion on the train.
Police said “a number of people” were injured as Prime Minister Theresa May´s office said she would be chairing an emergency cabinet meeting later on Friday.
A Metro.co.uk reporter at the scene was quoted by the paper as saying that some passengers were “really badly burned” and their “hair was coming off”.
The incident would be the fifth terror attack in six months in Britain since March, when a lone attacker mowed down pedestrians and stabbed a police officer outside the British parliament.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a former London mayor, appealed for calm.
“Obviously, everybody should keep calm and go about their lives in a normal way, as normal as they possibly can,” he told Sky News.
‘COVERED IN BLOOD’
Passengers described chaotic scenes at the station in a leafy and normally quiet part of west London.
“There was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming, lots of screaming,” Richard Aylmer-Hall, 52, a media technology consultant, told the Press Association.
“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 said, adding that “some people got pushed over and trampled on.
“I saw two women being treated by ambulance crews,” he said.
BBC correspondent Riz Lateef, who was on her way to work, said: “People were left with cuts and grazes from trying to flee the scene. There was lots of panic.”
One passenger, named only as Lucas, told BBC 5 Live radio: “I heard a really loud explosion”.
“I saw people with minor injuries, burnings to the face, arms, legs, multiple casualties,” he said.
Another witness, Sham, told the radio station he had seen a man with blood all over his face.
“There were a lot of people limping and covered in blood,” he said.
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,” she told the Press Association.
“It was absolutely terrifying”.
Natasha Wills, assistant director of operations at London Ambulance Service said: “Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries”.
She said the ambulance service had sent “multiple resources” to the station, including a hazardous area response team.