iStock/Thinkstoc(LONDON) — A manhunt is underway in London after an apparent bucket bomb exploded on a crowded subway train during rush hour Friday morning, sending a fireball through the passenger car and sending at least 29 people to the hospital, officials said. British authorities are treating the blast as a terror attack.
UPDATES: WHAT WE KNOW NOW
- An apparent bucket-bomb explosion rocked a London subway train Friday morning.
- Police are treating the incident as a terror attack, the sixth in Britain this year.
- The blast sent 29 people to the hospital.
- A manhunt is underway for perpetrators, with no arrests yet.
- Witnesses described a ball of flames and a loud explosion.
- Police said the improvised explosive device used did not fully explode.
“This is a live investigation,” Assistant Commissioner for London’s Metropolitan Police Service Mark Rowley said outside Scotland Yard, the police force’s headquarters, shortly after the explosion occurred at the Parsons Green tube station just after 8 a.m. local time.
“There are many urgent inquiries ongoing with hundreds of detectives involved, looking at CCTV, carrying out forensic work and speaking to witnesses,” Rowley, the head of national counter-terrorism policing, added.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said after an emergency Cabinet meeting that the nation’s threat level is at “severe.” The public should remain vigilant, she said.
A British government official said the incident is being treated as a terror attack but so far it appears to be an isolated incident.
Eyewitnesses told ABC News that the blast happened as the train pulled into the station in the affluent, mainly residential area of West London.
“I heard a loud bang and as I looked to my right, there was a flame, a fireball came through the carriage. … As the doors opened, people then began leaving the train straight away,” said Martin Adams, a security manager for The Walt Disney Company who was riding in the subway car at the time. “I saw some flames coming from what I thought was a blue bag.”
Another person who was at the Parsons Green station said she saw a number of people with what appeared to be facial burns and singed hair after the explosion.
“I saw a couple people with burns. One lady had her hair badly singed by the fire,” said Sally Faulding, who witnessed the panic on the subway platform. “I also saw people injured obviously from having been stampeded on the platform because we were all running. People were falling over.”
The London Ambulance Service said it transported 19 patients to area hospitals and 10 others took themselves, but none of the injuries were serious or life-threatening.
Adams said the situation was managed well by train operators and emergency crews, and that passengers remained relatively calm.
“There were no casualties at all on the train. Everybody appeared to get off,” Adams told ABC News. “There was nobody laying on the platform floor. I assessed that there were no serious casualties at that time.”
Police said the improvised explosive device on the train did not fully explode. No arrests have been made at this time.
The area surrounding the Parsons Green tube station was evacuated as emergency services continue to work at the scene and officers secure the remnants of the device, police said.
Apparent images of the device show wires hanging out of a white bucket.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, declared the event as a “terrorist incident.”
The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command are investigating after the incident at #ParsonsGreen tube station is declared a terrorist incident
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) September 15, 2017
London Mayor Sadiq Khan released a statement condemning those responsible for the attack.
“Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life,” Khan said. “As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has clashed with Khan in the past, shared his thoughts on Twitter just before 7 a.m. ET.
Another attack in London by a loser terrorist.These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2017
Trump referred to the suspects being “in the sights of Scotland Yard,” though London officials have not publicly provided any confirmation of that.
Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. said they are closely monitoring Friday’s incident in London.
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said there were no known threats to the city’s subway system, but reminded passengers to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
However, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement saying he was increasing security in public transportation areas across the Empire State.
“Out of an abundance of caution, I am directing state law enforcement to increase security at vital assets across New York, including airports, bridges, tunnels and mass transit systems,” Cuomo said. “The safety and security of New Yorkers is our No. 1 priority, and we remain in close contact with local and federal officials. We remain vigilant, and we stand with the people of London.”
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