London police declare ‘terrorist incident’ at Parsons Green train station
British police say they are treating reports of a blast at a west London metro station as a “terrorist incident”.
Several people were injured at Parsons Green underground station on Friday morning (local time) after witnesses reported a blast on a packed rush-hour commuter train.
Emergency services said they had been called to reports of a fire on a train at the West London station.
“It is too early to confirm the cause of the fire, which will be subject to the investigation that is now underway by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command,” London police said in a statement.
Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, had declared it a terrorist incident, the statement said.
The Metro newspaper reported passengers had suffered burns from a blast and others had been hurt in a subsequent stampede.
The underground operator said services have been cut along the line.
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A commuter whose train had just left the station said there was panic after a woman on the platform saw what appeared to be an explosion.
Richard Aylmer-Hall said he saw several people injured, apparently trampled as they fled.
“There was a woman on the platform who said she had seen a bag, a flash and a bang, so obviously something had gone off,” he said.
“Some people got pushed over and trampled on — I saw two women being treated by ambulance crews.”
Mr Aylmer-Hall said he did not believe anyone was hurt by the actual device.
Another man, Ola Fayankinnu, described flames engulfing one carriage and racing along the train, forcing passengers to trample others as they rushed for an exit.
“I was on [the] second carriage from the back. I just heard a kind of whoosh,” he said, adding that the train was packed with people and he had not heard a bang.
“I looked up and saw the whole carriage engulfed in flames making its way towards me.
“A lot of people were trampled on. There were phones, hats, bags all over the place and when I looked back I saw a bag with flames.
“People were crying, shocked, a few people had been injured, some people had been trampled.”
Another witness described seeing six ambulances, fire engines and a helicopter at the station, and another saw a woman being carried off on a stretcher with her legs covered in a foil blanket.
Assistant director of operations at London Ambulance Service Natasha Wills said in a statement on Twitter that a hazardous area response team had been sent to the scene.
“We have sent multiple resources to the scene including single responders in cars, ambulance crews, incident response officers and our hazardous area response team, with the first of our medics arriving in under five minutes,” she said.
“Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries.”
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the BBC: “Everybody should keep calm and go about their lives in as normal a way as they possibly can.”
Transport for London said on Twitter there was no service between Earls Court and Wimbledon on the District Line, which runs through Parsons Green and, in a statement, police advised people to avoid the area.
“Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service and British Transport Police are in attendance along with the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service,” the statement read.
“We would advise people to avoid the area.”