Parsons Green terror explosion: Police confirm blast on packed commuter train was suspicious

Police are treating an explosion on a packed commuter tube train in south-west London as terrorism.

A ‘fireball’ and ‘wall of flame’ ripped through the London Underground services, with commuters on the District Line at Parsons Green fleeing in terror after a blast in a bucket shortly after 8am this morning.

There were reports of widespread panic after the explosion, with one eyewitness describing the scene as ‘total chaotic panic’. It is believed the crude device, which was inside Lidl carrier bag, did not fully detonate.

Eyewitnesses reported that emergency services are treating two different types of injury at the scene, with some suffering facial burns and others trampled in the chaos that followed.

“At this stage we are treating the matter as a terror related incident,” confirmed the Metropolitan Police.

“The Metropolitan Police terror command will take responsibility for the investigation, with the Prime Minister chairing a meeting of their emergency COBRA group this afternoon.

“It’s too early to draw any full conclusions as to what the circumstances and causes of that explosion are and we are investigating and exploring that at the moment.

“For now we just remind people to remain alert and to report anything suspicious to the emergency services.”

“One of my friends was in the station and she called me about three minutes after it happened and she was just crying,” said Holly Lesley, 19, who lives five minutes from Parsons Green.

“It was just chaos apparently in the station, I couldn’t really hear what she was saying.”

Passer-by Richard Elmaholl, a media technology consultant, said:  “I was on my way into London on my way to go to work, blissfully unaware what was going on, listening to my podcast. Suddenly there was mass screaming and panic, a huge explosion.

“Obviously something had gone on. A lady was saying she’d seen a small bag with flames coming off. Platform staff reacted very quickly and encouraged people off the platform quickly.

“There were a few people with small injuries, people getting squeezed and pushed.”

BBC correspondent Riz Lateef was at the station travelling to work and told BBC Five Live there was “panic as people rushed from the train, hearing what appeared to be an explosion. People were left with cuts and grazes from trying to flee the scene. There was lots of panic.”

Another passenger told the radio station: “I heard a really loud explosion – when I looked back there appeared to be a bag but I don’t know if it’s associated with it.

“I saw people with minor injuries, burnings to the face, arms, legs, multiple casualties in that way. People were helping each other.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life.

“As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.

“I am in close contact with the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, Government and other emergency services who are responding at the scene and leading the investigation. I will be attending the emergency COBRA meeting in Whitehall this afternoon with the Prime Minister.

“My sincere gratitude goes to all our courageous emergency responders and the TfL staff who were first on the scene.

“I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant, and to check TfL’s website for travel advice.”


Prime Minister Theresa May said: “My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident.”

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson said: “I’m afraid my info is limited and it’s important not to speculate.

“People shouldn’t keep clam and go about their lives in the normal way. I know Transport for London and the British Transport Police are on it and they’ll be updating their websites as we get more information.”

Credit: Beth Horton

Credit: Beth Horton

In a statement, Scotland Yard said: “Police were called at approximately 8.20am to Parsons Green Underground Station following reports of an incident on a Tube train.

“Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service and British Transport Police are in attendance along with the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service.

“We would advise people to avoid the area.”

Natasha Wills, assistant director of operations at the London Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 8:20am to reports of an incident at Parsons Green underground station.

“We have sent multiple resources to the scene including single responders in cars, ambulance crews, incident response officers and our hazardous area response team, with the first of our medics arriving in under five minutes.

“Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries.”

A London Fire Brigade spokeswoman said: “We were called at 8.21am and we have information there was a fire on a train eastbound at the platform at Parsons Green. We have got two fire engines there.”

The British Transport Police said: “We are aware of an incident at  Parsons Green station. Officers are at the scene. The station is closed. More information as we get it.”

Transport for London tweeted: “Police are responding to an incident at Parsons Green. We will update the feed when we know more.”

The Metropolitan Police are advising people to avoid the area.

Armed police, the London Ambulance Service and the London Fire Brigade are all at the scene.

We are aware of an incident at Parsons Green. We have turned off dynamic pricing and will refund all journeys from the affected area.

Credit: Ed Johnson

Uber said: “We are aware of an incident at Parsons Green. We have turned off dynamic pricing and will refund all journeys from the affected area.”

The British Transport Police said: “We ask everyone to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour to us by texting 61016 or calling 0800 405040.”

More to follow.

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