The 7th of July London bombing coronial inquest has almost finished the survivor questioning and statements. Lady Justice Hallett has praised the bravery of many, even the fire fighter who subsequently swapped careers to become a coke dealer and is now banged up in Wandsworth Prison (it could be any prison really, but I like the sound of Wandsworth).
The authorities now come under her gaze. I think they are in for a tough time.
A writer for The Guardian says,
Survivors staggering from the Aldgate train told how they shouted at paramedics who were waiting on the platform for instructions while people were dying just a few hundred yards away in the tunnel.
Fire crews did not arrive at the platform at Edgware Road until 9.44am, almost an hour after the explosion, where they waited instead of proceeding to the carriage. Paramedics quickly ran out of equipment and were reliant on what they could find in a nearby branch of Marks & Spencer. Ambulances from the two closest stations to the bomb site were not dispatched.
The driver of the train, Ray Whitehurst, with none of his communication equipment working, rang repeatedly for help from a fixed-line phone inside the tunnel, but was ignored. "I got the impression that no one really knew what they were doing," he said. A junior London Underground worker who had rushed, covered in soot and very distressed from the carriage to the station control room to get more first aid supplies, told the inquest his supervisor, Ken Leach, had told him to "piss off". Leach said he couldn't recall using those words.
Though the Tavistock Square bus blew up in broad daylight in a busy central London street, it took 52 minutes before ambulances were even dispatched. British Transport police officers who witnessed the explosion and ran to their nearby headquarters to raise help were instead prevented from leaving the HQ after being told it was in "lockdown".
And so, depressingly, on. However challenging the circumstances, there is no question that the capital's emergency services fell short in their response; how seriously they failed will be Lady Justice Hallett's duty to decide.