London Calling: Cell Phones May Aid Police | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 11.07.2005
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London Calling: Cell Phones May Aid Police

As Londoners began returning to work Monday, police warned that staying staying would equal giving in to terrorists. Meanwhile, high tech looks set to play a big role in news coverage and the investigation.


Do they need to spell it out? 'Not afraid' campaign is a media success

Londoners were gritting their teeth as they returned to work Monday even as police searched crumpled underground train wreckage for clues to track the terror bombers, spurred by fear of a new attack.

After a day of prayers for the victims, mingled with memories of World War II heroism on the 60th anniversary of the conflict's end on Sunday, people descended into subway trains and rode the buses to work again.

Nach dem Terroranschlag von London - das Wrack der U-Bahn

The London Underground train bombed at Aldgate tube station

Most of the London Underground system apart from the blast sites would be open, said Andy Trotter, deputy chief constable of the British Transport Police.

"We believe that with all the efforts of everyone involved, including Londoners, we can defeat the terrorists. By not coming to work, by London not being open for business, they will win. And they are not going to win."

Stiff upper lips

On Monday morning, it appeared that commuters were indeed traveling into London by bus and subway, anxious but determined to press on with their lives at the start of the first working week since a barrage of bomb attacks on trains and a bus.

Nerves are jangling as a result, but many businessmen and women -- in true British stiff-upper-lip style -- say they refuse to allow the threat of another atrocity to affect their daily life.

"I was a bit hesitant at first, but I have to use the tube to get to work," said 20-year-old office worker Daniel Jakes. "People were glaring at each other so I did feel a bit paranoid," he admitted.

London Terroranschläge auf U-Bahn und Bussystem in London Verletzte Reisende

Injured tube passengers at Edgware Road on Thursday, July 7

Cathy Dunstan, a 35-year-old investment banker, said she had no hesitation about taking the Underground, even though there was early-morning evidence of some commuters electing to head for work on their bikes.

"The journey was fine. I wasn't worried about getting on the Tube," said Dunstan. "These things happen, you've just got to get on with life."

Police said 49 bodies had been hauled out of the four blast sites, a blown-apart Number 30 double-decker bus and three London Underground train tunnels, and they hoped to find no more.

High-tech in the limelight

Meanwhile British police appealed to the public for images taken at the sites of last week's suspected al Qaeda bomb attacks. And investigators asked mobile phone and Internet companies to store the content of voicemails, emails and SMS text messages on the day of the bombings.

Mobile phone footage captured seconds after the bomb attacks brought home the full horror of the carnage. Dozens of terrified passengers on the trains reached for their phones not just to call loved ones but also to record the terror virtually as it happened.

London Bus mit Aufschrift We are not afraid

entry on

A host of television stations and news websites showed video and stills images of bloodied commuters desperately clawing their way to safety, or dazed bus passengers sprawled on the ground after the blast.

A clutch of media organizations from as far away as Australia -- which has several thousand nationals living in London -- called on those caught up in the drama to email their pictures, and many responded.

One man, Alex Chadwick, took pictures of one of the attacks on the London Underground with his mobile, capturing passengers covering their mouths as acrid smoke swirled around them. Another image showed a man nearby also using his handset to take pictures. Video footage showed blast survivors heading for the exit, exhorted by a London Underground worker to "keep on moving down, please."

Terror in London

Image taken on a mobile hone camera by victim Alexander Chadwick

Sky News put out an appeal for images and was contacted by people with mobile phone stills and videos, which they e-mailed to Sky News teams, said the channel's associate editor, Simon Bucks.

"This is eyewitness material seen as events are unfolding. It is a democratization of news coverage, which in the past we would have only got to later," Bucks said.

Bucks said it was inevitable that such mobile images would be increasingly used in major news events in the future. "More and more people have phones with cameras, the technology is getting better, camera phones are becoming more powerful.

Internet campaign a hit

In addition, the public response from people who were not directly involved in the attacks has been overwhelming. The Internet sites, which aims to show solidarity with terror victims, was flooded with submissions after it asked users to send in photographs bearing the message, "We are not afraid."

The three train blasts in London occurred on Thursday within 50 seconds of one another at about 8:50 a.m., a level of coordination that bore the hallmarks of an attack by suspected al-Qaeda operatives. There have been two claims of responsibility by groups linked to the organization.

Terroranschlag in London Reaktionen Zeitung Großbritannien

A commuter reads a copy of the 'Evening Standard' newspaper reporting the terror bomb explosions

"I am confident that the perpetrators will be brought to justice in the end," Home Secretary Charles Clarke told the BBC.

"Our fear is of course of more attacks until we succeed in tracking down the gang that committed the atrocities on Thursday," Clarke said.

Investigators say they have already established that the bombers used a high explosive -- they will not disclose further details -- and that each device was lighter than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms).

No inquiry planned

Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted late Sunday he would dismiss calls by opposition Conservatives for an inquiry into the attacks, but would instead underline his confidence in the intelligence services.

Meanwhile, a ring of human grief continued to grow around a tree close to the deadliest of last week's bomb attacks in London, where bunches of flowers, toys, cards and candles commemorate the victims.

King's Cross station, north London, lies at the epicenter of the bombings on Underground trains and a bus, and it has drawn hundreds of mourners from all walks of life to unite in their sorrow.

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