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What I saw on London Bridge

4 June 2017

12:10 AM

4 June 2017

12:10 AM

Just after 10pm on Saturday night, I was in an Uber minicab with my wife, heading south over London Bridge. We’d been out for a tapas dinner and were on our way home. It had been a lovely evening.

Suddenly I noticed something odd on the pavement on our side of the road. It looked like a woman had collapsed. There were a few people around her and they had draped their coats over her. It was troubling, but at least she was being looked after.

Then a shock. On the right-hand side of the bridge, a few yards on, we saw a man, also prostrate on the ground, with passers-by desperately trying to administer first aid. And our taxi driver shouted that yet another person lay injured ahead. It was now blindingly obvious: this was the aftermath of a terrorist attack. The sound of sirens grew louder.


Traffic on our side had stopped dead but some cars continued coming from the south, the Borough Market side of the river. A black cab driver stopped and wound down his window. ‘It’s Westminster all over again,’ he shouted. Fifteen or twenty people, he said, had been mown down by a white van.
The most urgent question then was: ‘is it over?’ It wasn’t at all clear and we were stuck in the middle of the bridge. I wanted to get my wife, who was in Tavistock Square on 7/7 when a suicide bomber blew up a double-decker bus, to safety.

Dozens of people began running from the south over the bridge: in retrospect, this was probably in response to police gunfire. But that was all the answer we needed. It was time to get out of the car and go with
them.

One man passed on news that made my blood run cold. It wasn’t just people run over. There were stabbings going on at the south end of the bridge too.

But I felt relief as a police 4×4 pulled up behind us, its blue lights flashing. Out jumped two officers rushing to grab their kit and strap on their helmets. In the circumstances, it was immensely reassuring to see them draw submachine-guns from the car.

It was apparent, even in those early minutes, that the epicentre of the terrorist attack was at the Borough Market end of the bridge. We walked north, towards a police cordon, where officers were asking for witness statements. On the bridge, ambulances loaded up the injured.

Shaken but unharmed, we walked for five minutes and flagged down a black cab, explaining to the driver what had happened. He dropped us safely at home, refusing to accept more than a token fare.


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