Survivor: Rescue protocols delayed help for dying in 7/7 London bombingA survivor told an inquest that some people were left to suffer in agony for up to 40 minutes before they died
By Sam Marsden
The Daily Record
LONDON — Some victims of the 7/7 bombings died in "agony" because restrictive rules prevented rescuers from reaching them sooner, an inquest heard today.
Survivor Michael Henning criticised emergency service "protocols" that left some people to suffer in excruciating pain for up to 40 minutes before they died.
He vividly relived the moment suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer detonated his device on a Circle line train at Aldgate Tube station on July 7, 2005, killing seven people.
He said at first he thought he was dead as he described the horrific scenes that followed the blast.
Michael, who was working as a broker and living in Kensington, west London, at the time, recalled his anger at seeing three groups of firemen waiting in the station after he was evacuated from the train.
Dignity He told the inquests into the deaths of the 52 victims of the 7/7 attacks that he asked each group: "Why aren't you down there? There are people dying."
None of the firefighters looked at him or replied, he said, apparently out of embarrassment, apart from a young man who said they feared a secondary explosion.
Michael added: "There were people that may have survived if they had got urgent medical response there and then.
"My view is even if they were too severely wounded to survive, some died in agony for 20, 30, 40 minutes. At least they should have had the dignity of having some morphine or something of that nature."
He also spoke of his frustration as he walked past the carriage where Tanweer set off his bomb, and saw off-duty police officer Elizabeth Kenworthy holding Martine Wright, who lost both her legs in the attack.
Describing the despair on Elizabeth's face, he said: "I had never ever seen such a forlorn look, such a desperate look."
He added: "I was quite calm but I could feel the anger rising in me as we had no help apart from London Underground people at that stage."
Michael compared the risk-averse rules of today's emergency services with the courage shown by his grandfather, who led a rescue team in the Blitz during World War II.
He said: "They didn't wait until the bombers had left. They didn't worry about unexploded bombs.
"They would go in even if the building was on fire."
Stressing he was not criticising individuals, he suggested that firefighters, police and paramedics had been held back by their protocols.
Confusion He said he learned later that some firefighters had needed counselling to deal with the guilt of not being able to help more quickly.
He added: "When they were allowed to do their jobs, they did them absolutely brilliantly. There was confusion, they had problems with communication, we know that. But individually, they were very brave, very professional."
Michael said he considered himself a "deeply lucky person" after choosing to get on the third carriage instead of the second carriage, where Tanweer was standing.
Describing the blast, he said: "It feels completely real to me now as I speak. I can feel heat. It's extremely real. One moment, you had the sense of reality as you know it - your everyday Tube travel - and the next, it's all changed.
"I remember the questions in my head, 'What is this?', as I'm being twisted and thrown to the ground and then I realised it was a bomb.
"It's strange the thoughts that go through your mind but I think it was a completely British understatement - 'Oh, this isn't good'.
"I remember being on the ground. It was completely dark and I remember thinking I must be dead. That's when I felt the blood and realised that perhaps it was OK."
He then heard screams from the second carriage and added: "I could see people moving slowly in pain.
"I don't want to go into too much detail about what I saw. It is a very difficult image to hold.
"I don't think it would be for me to say how long it was before the evacuation but I can say that we did sit there for a long time."
He recalled how while they were waiting, one of the other passengers pulled out her compact mirror to show him he was not as badly injured as he thought.
The inquest, which also heard tributes yesterday from the families of the seven people who died in the blast, continues.