The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Police grapple with bomber or timer puzzle

London, July 9: Police revealed that the three bombs on the London Underground, which killed at least 49 and injured over 700, exploded simultaneously at 8.50 am.

This corrects earlier reports that there was a 26-minute lapse between the first and the third bombs. The revised timetable was established after looking at technical data from the London Underground. The first explosion happened at Aldgate-Liverpool Street, followed seconds later by the blasts at Edgware Road and Russell Square.

London Underground managing director Tim ’Toole said: “It was bang, bang, bang, very close together.”

A fourth bomb, on the number 30 bus near Russell Square at the junction of Upper Wolburn place and Tavistock Square, exploded at 9.47 am.

Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick disclosed: “We can clarify the position that the three bombs exploded almost simultaneously.”

He said: “Clearly, there are two possibilities here. Either you have people with the explosive devices who synchronised watches or whatever, and they have simultaneously detonated their devices at the same time. Or it could be these devices were triggered by timing devices that were co-ordinated to go off at the same time.”

He went on: “I don’t think it takes us much further forward other than to say that, bearing in mind these were almost simultaneous, we think within 50 seconds of each other, maybe that lends more towards timing devices than people actually with the bombs manually detonating. But we are not ruling out either possibility.”

A forensic expert gathers evidence near the bombed bus in Tavistock Place, central London. (Reuters)

The police are not keen to publicly pursue the line that the terrorists might have been “home grown”. One paper today suggested that “a major concern is that they are dealing with “clean skins”, possibly British-born terrorists who have not crossed the intelligence radar before”.

Asked about reports that one of the bombers may be among the injured still being treated in hospital, Paddick said: “As far as we are concerned, this is just complete speculation.”

Deep in a tunnel under London, the rescue services are still trying to extricate the bodies of passengers. It’s dangerous work because any moment the tunnel could collapse. The temperature there at the depth of 100 feet is about 60 degrees Celsius.

The confirmed death toll has risen to 49 but the police say it could reach 70.

Nobody knows exactly how many bodies are inside a wrecked carriage in a badly damaged tunnel between King’s Cross and Russell Square stations. The bodies of perhaps as many as 20 victims remain inside the carriage of the Piccadilly line train, which is about 500 yards from the station inside the enclosed tube tunnel.

Fumes, vermin, the risk of asbestos, stifling heat and the threat of the tunnel collapsing have all seriously hampered the recovery operation and made life near-impossible for emergency workers.

“The priority at this stage is to recover the bodies from the scene ' and they are very difficult scenes, particularly at Russell Square,” a security source said.

Next Thursday, there will be a two-minute silence across the nation at noon.

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