City workers tell of bomb ordeal

By Rebecca SheppardHUNDREDS of people from the region who work in the City were caught up in the “mayhem” as terrorists struck.Passengers on the trains arriving moments after the first explosion near Liverpool Street and Aldgate underground stations yesterday spoke of the terrifying situation they faced.

By Rebecca Sheppard

HUNDREDS of people from the region who work in the City were caught up in the “mayhem” as terrorists struck.

Passengers on the trains arriving moments after the first explosion near Liverpool Street and Aldgate underground stations yesterday spoke of the terrifying situation they faced.

Other people working close to the blasts were barricaded in their offices with the blinds shut in case of another attack.

Frightened staff faced hours trying to work out what had happened in the explosions, while sniffer dogs checked offices and evacuation routes were inspected.

Neil Skinner, from Manningtree Rail Users' Association, commutes from Great Bromley to his office next to Aldgate underground station.

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Speaking at the time of the terrorist attacks, he said: “We are confined to the office and we're not allowed out. I vaguely heard something, but at the time I didn't know what it was. Other people heard an explosion.

“There are lots of people in the office who use that station and come in at about that time, but everyone is accounted for here. All the blinds have been pulled down. It's a bit scary. We are hearing horrific stories about what's gone on and we're trying to work out what's happening.

“It's a bit of a weird situation. We are working as normal, but they are making sure the bomb evacuation routes and doors are ready to go. Our premises people said we would not be able to leave the building. They are acting on the instructions from the police.

“We have got helicopters flying around and all sorts going on. There have been loads of sirens as well. Although we are only next door we are getting more information from the television.”

Eventually, at about 4.50pm, he was able to walk to Liverpool Street station via a specially designated route, which involved a detour of about one mile around the incident area, and finally made his way back home.

David Bigg, chairman of the Witham and Braintree Rail Users' Association, who travels from Witham to his office close to Aldgate, was turned back at Chelmsford after the blasts.

He said: “It hit in the peak when London would be at its most concentrated commuter levels. A lot of my team come in to London on the underground on that line.

“The areas where the bombs have gone off are heavily concentrated with people from East Anglia. Unfortunately, it's very difficult getting through to anyone from the association as the mobile network has been switched off.”

James Brome, 31, from Martlesham Heath, usually takes the tube from Moorgate to his office at London Bridge.

His mainline train arrived at Liverpool Street at about 8.44am and he started his walk to Moorgate. But by chance he decided to take a bus instead of the tube for the first time, which may have saved him from the first explosion.

Mr Brome said: “I did not hear a bang, but all of a sudden people were crowding trying to get on the buses. I was going to get on at Moorgate station and I've now found out there was a device at Moorgate on the train.

“That's the journey I take every day, but for the first time I took the bus. I heard in the morning that there were problems on the Northern line.

“Then I got a bus and when I was on the bus I saw them shutting up Bank station. It was quite scary. I have got to do the same journey tomorrow. I do not feel great about it.”

David Jimpson, from Kesgrave, who was travelling to work as an insurance broker near the Tower of London, arrived at Liverpool Street at 8.55am, just six minutes after the first reports of an explosion.

Mr Jimpson, 45, of Rayment Drift, said: “Police cars were racing about, there was a dog squad and there were police motorcycles racing about.

“There was obviously something going on. There was a lot of noise of police cars travelling down the roads.”

Kate Digby would normally have boarded the tube at Aldgate East at 8.45am - just minutes before the series of explosions hit the capital, but a last-minute change of plan meant she boarded the tube early.

Her mother, Maggi Digby, of Anglesea Road, Ipswich, was sick with worry until she heard her 31-year-old daughter, who works for a Japanese shipping company in London, was safe and sound.

Ms Digby, 58, an ad sales manager for the East Anglian Daily Times' Suffolk magazine, said she had gone cold when she had heard there had been explosions in London.

She added: “I couldn't get my daughter on the mobile. Luckily she phoned me. I felt really relieved and really sick.

“Most work days she goes to her gym in Aldgate East at 7am and either does a workout or goes for a run - that's her regular routine. She then gets the tube about 8.45am from Aldgate East to Liverpool Street.

“Today she went to the gym, but wasn't feeling too well - she has a bad cold. So she didn't go for a run and went in the steam room instead.

“She was early and went on the tube about 8.15am. She never normally gets the tube this early, so somebody loves her.”

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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