I was worried about my cousin who works as a reporter in London. I had no idea how I was going to get in touch with him to find out if he was ok, then I saw he was alright when I logged onto CNN and saw a link to something he wrote… I’m very proud of him. he wrote this for Fortune The London Blasts: A Firsthand Account
A FORTUNE editor finds himself on a bus right behind the one that was bombed today in the U.K.
By Nelson Schwartz
Thursday, July 7, 2005
Even before I heard and felt the blast, something seemed not right in London. I was heading back from my office on Waterloo Bridge to my home in Hampstead after pulling an all-nighter. When I walked out on to the bridge to catch a cab at 9:30 am, I saw one emergency vehicle after another go by, lights flashing and sirens wailing. I figured it was a security alert or maybe had something to do with yesterday's Olympic win. There wasn't a single free cab, though, and my usual bus, the 168, wasn't anywhere in sight, even as other buses came and went.
Finally the 168 arrived and I got on. It was more crowded than usual, but it was the normal mix of commuters and the kind of eccentrics who seem to ride the bus in every city. People seemed more talkative than usual for London, though, and I overheard that tube stations were closed and there was a power surge in the Underground. The London Tube is famously unreliable, and I thought, great, another breakdown. Finally a seat opened up, and I sat down next to a young woman with brown hair and glasses. I kept hearing more and more emergency vehicles, though, so I called a reporter friend and asked what was up. She told me the Tube was shut and there were power surges east to west.
A couple of seconds before 10 am, between Euston and Russell Square, I turned the woman next to me, and said is the tube really closed? As she answered, we heard a distinct, deep echoing BOOM. The bus shook ever so slightly. There was silence, followed by muted shouts on the bus, as people asked 'What was that?' Most of the passengers rushed to the exits and the doors opened but it was a typical London rush, fairly orderly and no pushing or shoving. I immediately thought it was a bomb after having lived through 9/11 in Manhattan, and having heard similar booms during the very brief time I was in Iraq. But then I thought, maybe it was a transformer blowing out from the power surges, and post-9/11 urban anxiety was getting the better of me.
I kept calm and stayed on the bus. Where was I going to go, I thought. The bus was moving forward, and even if it were terrorism, they weren't going to attack multiple targets. A Madrid-like attack hadn't yet crossed my mind. My bus crept forward for about three minutes and it was at that point I looked through the windshield and saw what looked like a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, except the front was crumpled and the top was sheared off. I honestly couldn't process what I was seeing for a moment, and then the familiar images from Israel registered in my brain and I realized it was a blown-up bus. Through trees, I could see splattered blood on the cement walls of the building closest to the front of the bus.
I stayed on my bus, which kept moving, first saying a prayer, and then honestly not knowing what to do. Then as we got closer, I felt as a reporter, I should check it out. I felt ghoulish and voyeuristic but got off the bus. I walked towards the wreckage, getting no closer than 100 yards. There was no noise or smoke coming from the bus, just silence. The only sounds were sirens and the shouts of police telling people to get back, and asking "is anyone a doctor here?" I showed my press card but was told there would be a press conference later by a rather polite emergency services officer, who then went on yelling for people to move back. One man said he was a doctor, and was let through. I started heading back, north towards home, away from the scene. I called my Mom and told her I was ok, but word hadn't yet reached New York.
It reminded me somewhat of Sept. 11th in NY. On that day I was home on the Upper West Side, still in bed, far from downtown Manhattan when the first plane struck the North Tower. But I remember the nervousness, the misplaced laughter, the numb looks of people on the street that day. Then it was people streaming north in Manhattan. It was the same phenomenon in London, but on a much smaller scale. Buses continued to run, taxis were operating, and after a half-hour walk the streets seemed normal, apart from the occasional sirens. It was at that point I felt a real shudder of fear. I thanked God again, and kept walking.