For the people pictured here, July 7 began as a summer's day like any other. The ring of an alarm . . . a rushed breakfast with the family . . . a frantic run to the station . . . crowds on the platform. And then, around 9 o'clock, the bombs went off, bringing with them chaos, destruction, searing heat . . . and unimaginable fear and pain. For this special feature, six survivors recall in graphic detail what happened to them on the day that terrorists bombed London — and how, against all the odds, they managed to come out alive
Danny, 26, is a building-projects manager and lives in Romford, Essex. His girlfriend, Lisa Flint, 25, works for a shipping company in Hainault, Greater London
"I woke at the usual time, 5.10am, with a migraine. I was with my girlfriend, Lisa, at her parents' house in Romford, Essex — we'd been saving to get married. I said to Lisa: "I'm phoning in sick." Then I dozed off. Half an hour later, my headache had eased up. I had a meeting about a big job, so I thought I'd go in. I got dressed — jeans, T-shirt, Caterpillar boots — kissed Lisa goodbye and left for work.
That extra 30 minutes made all the difference. There was a delay at Liverpool Street, so I walked through to the Circle line, and went to the front of the train. I usually sit at the back because you never hear of a train reversing into anything. Crazy reasoning, but that's what I do. And I always stand up. After all, I'm 26.
That morning I got on the front of the train, which was closest to the stairs, and stood next to the bomber, Mohammad Sidique Khan. I looked at him, as you do. He seemed quite calm. Nothing, in retrospect, made me think: "This guy's got a bomb." He looked at me, and as he did so he put his hand inside his rucksack, looked at me again, looked away, and pulled back his hand.
With that there was a crackly noise like when you tune in a radio, and the train seemed to expand and contract very quickly. I was slammed straight out of the train by the force of the blast, bounced off the wall of the tunnel — that's how I got the big scar on my head — and skidded along like a rag doll. As I landed, the train came to a halt and the doors, opened out by the blast, closed violently — guillotining my legs. I heard everything crack. I didn't lose consciousness. It was all over in 10 seconds. Imagine the worst pain, magnify it by a million, and that's close to what having a train door cut through your legs feels like. I screamed. Then it was as if someone turned the switch off. Boom! No more pain.
Blood was pouring down my face. When I went to put my hand on my forehead I actually put my hand inside my forehead, on my skull. I called for help but all I could hear was people screaming from the carriage. Then someone would stop screaming, and I'd know they'd died. Then this mountain of a guy appeared: Adrian Heili, a fellow passenger, a South African who'd been in the Swiss army. He now works as a bodyguard. "Don't worry, we'll get you out," he said. "I've never lost anyone yet and I don't intend starting now." The track could have still been live but Adrian had grabbed it. Then, when he wasn't electrocuted, he'd crawled underneath the train. At the same time, Lee Hunt, an Underground driver who'd been on his tea break at the depot at Edgware Road, had come down when he heard the explosion. He, too, crawled under the train.
I was calm because I honestly believed I was going to die. But Adrian lifted the door off me, then held me to put tourniquets on my legs to keep me alive. Lee shone a torch in my eyes to keep me awake, and they talked to me about my favourite football team, Arsenal, my girlfriend, my family — anything to stop me going to sleep. By about 10am, they'd got me out. I was the first into St Mary's, Paddington. The doctor looked at me with utter panic. Later, he admitted to me he didn't know where to start. I was bleeding and my legs were all mangled and cut and burnt; my arms were five times their normal size, so I looked like a cartoon; my jeans had been blown off me in the blast. The money in my left-hand pocket had been blown into my right leg. I've still got a 20p piece that blew right through my leg embedded in my thighbone. I've always got money on me! Within seconds there were consultants and Christ knows what at my bedside. I told them my name and where I lived. Then I was out for the count.
I woke five weeks later. At the hospital it was knife-edge whether I lived or died. I had 70 pints of blood put in me — called a total exchange. I suffered three cardiac arrests in the first two hours. The third resulted in them opening my chest up, massaging my heart to get it going again. The police traced me, through bank-account details in my wallet, to Lisa's parents' house. But it took all day, and it wasn't until midnight that they told her to come to the hospital. "Time is of the essence," they said. My dad and mum, who were living in Spain, were called by Lisa's dad. They thought they'd be coming home to a funeral.
At St Mary's, they didn't think I'd last the night. The comical thing was that when this beautiful 25-year-old, my girlfriend, Lisa, arrived that night, my body was so broken up that they'd put me down as 55 years old. Lisa had come to say goodbye. When she came in, I opened my eyes and said her name. It meant that Lisa knew the possibility of brain damage was reduced. I came close to dying that day. I lost both legs and went from being 6ft 4in to 5ft-nothing. I had second-degree burns to my arms and face, a massive cut on my head. I'm completely deaf in my left ear; I lost my left eye; and my spleen, which had ruptured, had to be removed. I spend most of my days in a wheelchair.
Khan took a lot from me. I can't grab hold of him and shout. But I only feel anger towards him, and not to the Muslim religion or Muslims. I channel my anger into getting my life back. I will walk. I will get married. I'll have children.
I won't lie down and let people like Khan destroy my life. Fortunately for me, I had two incredibly brave men, Adrian and Lee — and I can't stress enough how those two guys are heroes for me — and fantastic hospital staff who've got me walking on prosthetic legs. The doctors and nurses at St Mary's, Paddington, and at Queen Mary's, Roehampton, have overwhelmed me with their care and kindness. When I was upset, they'd be there to comfort me, and if I'd wake up in the night, a nurse would hold my hand until I'd gone back to sleep. If I woke up 30 times, she'd come 30 times. I'll never get on a Tube train again; I can't be in the dark now; I can't be in confined spaces. I wake up at night and I can taste blood in my mouth, smell the smell from that tunnel and hear the screams of those people dying. Those screams will always be with me. It sounds funny, but I feel guilty for surviving.
Danny Biddle is now in the Douglas Bader rehabilitation centre at Queen Mary's, Roehampton. He is learning to walk again; "Going back 26 years, and learning to do all the things you take for granted," he says. He is having physiotherapy twice daily, and now has a prosthetic eye. He says he should be able to be 80% recovered. Then he will carry on working for his old firm, T H Kenyon and Sons, in a different role. He and Lisa still plan to get married and they will live in a bungalow. Danny's solicitor has applied for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). He has received compensation from the London Bombings fund."
Jack, 15, lives in Hockley, Essex, with his mother, Lesley, 48, an auxiliary nurse, and his sister, Sarah, 23, who works for an accountancy firm in Euston. He has an older brother, Ben, 21. Jack is studying for GCSEs at Greensward College, Hockley
"I was doing work experience at a travel company in London. I'd been a bit nervous earlier in the week, but by Thursday I felt okay. When I got up at 7, my mum was in the kitchen ironing my clothes — I had to be a bit smarter than usual. I had a croissant and orange juice watching the television — which was all about the Olympics coming to London.
Then I said goodbye to Mum, and my sister and I walked to the train, in a bit of a rush because Sarah's nearly always in a bit of a rush. We both got seats, and I sat listening to Black Eyed Peas and the Zutons on my iPod. At Liverpool Street, my sister went off to Euston and I headed off up the escalator to McDonald's, as I was bit early. I got hash browns, which I ate on the balcony, looking down at all the people. By now it was 8.50am, so I went down into the Underground and got on a Circle-line train. I held the pole with my back to the double doors, which closed, then opened up again for a couple of seconds, then closed again. I only knew later that my carriage was next to the one where the bomb went off. Twenty seconds after the train started, there was a massive blast — really, really loud. Outside, sparks and flames burnt up the side of the carriage. Inside, the lights had gone out and it was thick, musty smoke. I was panicking and crying. I thought I was going to burn to death. Someone shouted: "Help! We're dying!" I think several people were killed at that moment.
Everywhere I looked I could see people bleeding and covered in bits of glass: a blind man lying next to me, a very pregnant lady who was actually trying to calm someone, a man with bits of glass all over his face and head. Some people were screaming in agony; others were quite composed; one woman was hysterical.
A passenger called for everyone to get down on the floor, where there was more air. When I fell on the floor, glass was everywhere, cutting my knees. At first I was crying, then I calmed down. I saw this girl, Christine, who seemed to be on her own, like me, and I stayed next to her. The bomb had gone off in the next carriage. Most of those people were very badly hurt. Some were killed. We were there, like that, for 40 minutes.
Eventually the doors opened and we were led by fire brigade and Tube staff out of the carriage and around the bombed carriage. We saw terrible things: a woman sat with her knee up — she may have lost her leg — and her clothes ripped off, crying her eyes out. A man's head was just a mass of blood. I think I saw dismembered limbs and bodies — I'm not sure. Christine said: "Don't look." I looked quickly, then looked away. By that time, fire and Underground staff had managed to get into the tunnel, and they lifted us down onto the track. Nearby, two dead bodies were lying with their heads down, all black. I think they'd been burnt.
I held Christine's hand and we started walking down the track in single file. I thought there'd be rats in the tunnel, but I didn't see any.
Eventually we got out onto the platform. It was now about 9.40, and we all gave our details to the police. My phone wasn't working, so Christine gave me hers and I called my sister. I got through quickly. I just cried when I heard her voice, and said: "There's been an explosion." She said: "Stay there. I'll come and find you." Half an hour later, Christine had called her mum, spoken to the police, and was in a taxi on her way home to Guildford.
I was now on my own. As I walked down the street, ambulances and police sirens were everywhere, but I knew Sarah was on her way. I saw a big widescreen television in a tiny cafe, with the news. As I watched, I realised it was the news of the bombing at Aldgate — where I was.
On the TV you could see the helicopters over Aldgate station. Then I looked up to see the helicopters over Aldgate, and the TV camera hopping about nearby. I went to Starbucks and got a hot chocolate, then I talked to an American woman and her friend, and they asked me if I wanted to go back to their place in Tower Hill. But I said no, Sarah knows where I am. Finally, Sarah came. She'd been with a friend from work, and they'd walked past Tavistock Square when the bomb went off in the bus, so she and her friend had helped before getting someone else to take over. By now my ear was hurting so much I felt like it would burst. We got an ambulance to the Royal London hospital, where they cleaned me up. We waited for John, the family friend who'd organised the work experience for me. He drove us home. In all that time I hadn't been able to get through to my mum. It was about 4pm when we got back, and she was standing at the front door, crying. We had a hug, and I was crying too. Then I had a shower. I was a wreck. I had chippings of glass everywhere — on my scalp, all over my trousers, shirt and shoes, even inside my pockets.
Then I had a lie-down; I was quite tired. That evening I watched EastEnders and went to bed early — about 8.45. It was nice to get back into bed. That night, at home, it felt like a dream; like it hadn't happened to me. But then it was all on the telly, wasn't it? Seven people killed at Aldgate; I couldn't get away from it.
Jack's eardrum was not burst, and he has recovered physically. He has bad dreams and was offered counselling but has not taken it up. He and his family have not pursued compensation, partly because, his mother says, she understood that could be quite an ordeal in itself. For his birthday he was given a jack russell puppy, named Preston, after the dog in the Wallace & Gromit film A Close Shave — it seems to have aided Jack's recovery."
Yvonne, 30, is a microbiologist. Her husband, Udoka, works for Transport for London. They have a son, Kene, 17 months, and live in St Albans, Hertfordshire
"At 6am, when I got up, my husband was about to go to work. "Won't you give your wife a hug and a kiss?" I said. He's usually gone before I'm up. "What are you doing up this early?" he asked. I had a shower, got dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt, then, at 7, our nanny arrived to take care of my son. I left as the nanny and he waved at the window. I got the bus to High Barnet station, then the Northern line to King's Cross, which was unusually crowded. I remember thinking: "If a bomb goes off nowÉ" The Piccadilly-line platform was so crowded a guard was telling people to move down. Then an announcement said there'd be delays on the Piccadilly line. I said to myself: "It would take 15 minutes to walk." But it was 8.48am. I waited for the next Tube.
When the train finally arrived, people were pushing to get on. I held onto the central pole. The last person on was a black woman with braids, who sighed: "Thank God I made it!" Seconds after the train pulled out, there was a huge bang, then a flash of light, and I was thrown sideways as the pole exploded in my hand and people were thrown on top of me. It went very quiet. I thought I was dead. Maybe a minute passed, or maybe it was just seconds. Then I knew it was a bomb.
I couldn't hear properly. Later, at the hospital, I was told I had a perforated eardrum. Because I was holding the centre pole, the people around me had actually protected me. I closed my eyes and prayed. Blood was pouring down my face and all over me. My own and other people's. After praying, I wasn't scared of dying; I just hoped it'd be quick. At first, people were screaming and shouting, then a few took control, saying: "Don't panic." A blonde woman next to me was still screaming. I hugged her: "Look, we are fine." Then somebody said: "Please keep quiet; the driver is talking to us." The driver opened the connecting door between him and the carriage.
Slowly we all moved towards the front of the carriage. "Look, we're still alive; we're going to walk to Russell Square," said one man. The driver calmly guided us between the rails. As we walked, we could hear screams from the back, but it was too dark to see. A round-looking black guy with blood running down his face rushed to overtake the others. I didn't know who he was but I thought he'd be electrocuted. Actually, he was making sure everyone wasn't pushing, because if one person fell we'd all fall on the live tracks. After about 20 minutes someone saw lights and screamed "Station!" At Russell Square two men pulled us up onto the platform, and the black guy who'd helped us along the tracks pushed from behind. I saw this guy on the news later on that day, but nobody has heard from him since. The Underground operators stared at us, not knowing what had happened - this bedraggled group, covered in blood and soot. Halfway up, I got service on my phone and called my husband. I was sobbing, out of control.
"Stay there," he said. Twenty-six people were killed on that train. I was surprised it was so few. I think most died immediately. The station complex had been cordoned off by the police but the ambulances hadn't yet arrived, so some people started wandering home. People on the street saw me covered in blood and soot and asked: "Are you okay? Sit down." That's when I heard that there were people all over London walking around, like me, covered with soot and blood, scared and confused. I saw a colleague who worked in the next department to me in Great Ormond Street. We sat down and chatted. People started giving out blankets; the Tesco opposite the station dished out water and Lucozade. A man on a blanket, who looked very badly injured, wailed. I felt more numb than anything. Then my husband came.
We hugged and I knew everything would be okay. The police told us to go next door, to the Holiday Inn, in case another bomb went off. That was when my husband got a call from a friend saying he'd just seen us on Sky News. People who knew us recognised my husband, but they were looking at me saying: "Udoke's wife is much paler." But it was me, covered in soot. People with eye and ear problems, like me, were sent by ambulance to Moorfields eye hospital. Then the hospital organised a minicab to go to Golders Green. From there, a friend drove us back to St Albans and home. Earlier that day I'd thought I wouldn't see my son again. I really wanted to hug him, but I was still covered in soot and glass, so I ran a bath to try and get clean. I went to bed about 10, but I couldn't sleep. I kept on waking, hearing the bang of the bomb in my dreams. That day has changed my life completely. My husband means more to me. When I thought I was going to die, what went through my mind was that I never showed how much I really cared. Now, if we have silly arguments, before he goes out I'll say: "Give me a hug." I think: "What if I never see him again?"
Yvonne's eye, which was badly cut, has healed, as has her perforated eardrum. She has changed her job because she doesn't want to spend so
much time travelling. She still won't go on the Underground. She is applying to the CICA."
Brian Haughton, 58, is an information officer for the British Geological Survey, based at the Natural History Museum. He lives with Neil Navin in Stathern, Leicestershire
"I got up at 6, and went outside to check my llamas. I've got five, which I keep as exotic pets. I find them very calming. Then I did the basic things: quick breakfast, shower and change into a blue-and-white checked shirt, pink tie, a black blazer-type jacket with navy trousers.
I took the train to King's Cross, and then the Piccadilly line. I always get on at the front of the platform but when the announcer said, "Please move down, the platform's getting over-congested," being a good citizen, I walked down and stood, taking in everybody around me. I like people-watching, and I stood behind a tall girl who looked like Nigella Lawson - black jacket, lots of black glossy hair; a lady in a red jacket with a tapestry backpack, an oriental lady and a shortish lady.
The platform got busier, and when the train came in, the lady in the red jacket said to people near her as she got on: "Don't push me." I got on, and stood holding the pole nearest the door. My briefcase started off by my side; then, as the crowd got tighter, I held it in front of my chest. Eventually I was holding it right in front of my face. Only seconds after we set off, there was a blast. Everything went completely black and the train lurched like mad. I thought we'd derailed, but the explosion had caused the train to stop dead. I was thrown around so much, I had a large bruise where my elbow had dug into my body. It didn't occur to me it was a bomb. I later discovered that the bomber was standing about 12ft away, but I've no memory of him at all. Everybody was falling about and screaming. Some were wailing: "I'm dying." For a moment I thought: "This could be the end; if the train catches fire, we're done for."
But pretty quickly I realised I was okay. Because I'd held onto the pole and my briefcase was in front of my face, the shattered glass had only penetrated my arm. Today, you can see the mark on the briefcase where my arm was, where the shrapnel didn't hit it. Not much at all compared to what others suffered. I lent down and picked up the shortish lady and the oriental lady. Then I helped the oriental lady find her shoes by the light of her mobile phone. As some people made everyone stand up to see how injured people were, I saw the face of the woman next to me: it looked like raw meat. She thought she'd lost her eye, because she couldn't see and she was pouring blood. I realised that my face would've looked like that had I not had my briefcase there. She said to me: "Promise you won't leave me." And I didn't. I call her E because I never knew her name.
From the moment I realised I was okay, I was in helper mode. I ferreted inside my briefcase for my bottle of bitter lemon to hand to people who were choking; I took off my tie to be used as a bandage. After some time, I realised that the people in the next carriage were filtering out, and a station chap appeared and kicked in the door. I got a bit bossy after that: "Right, all the people from behind the door first," I said, as I shunted these people from behind the door, apart from E.
I led E, on my arm, through the carriages and I didn't leave her side until she went into surgery. We were the first walking wounded to go down the tracks to King's Cross. A policewoman helped us up onto the platform and we went up a stationary escalator into the ticket office, where we sat on the floor wrapped in blankets and foil. E's face was very painful with her injuries, which wasn't helped by different doctors coming to check her wound, and each time lifting the bandage. From here, I rang E's husband. "This is a wind-up," he said. "Listen to the sirens," I said. I made these phone calls for E to her husband and her work, before I called Neil or work. In fact, as I called E's husband, I got a text from Neil saying: "There's been trouble in London. Are you all right?"
Interviews by Ann McFerran