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Families Look for Survivors of London Attacks

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

The people of London are starting to recover from what was the worst attack there since World War II. From London, NPR's Ivan Watson has this report on some of the victims and some of the survivors.

IVAN WATSON reporting:

Social worker David Jones decided to stay home today after he narrowly survived one of the explosions during his commute to London yesterday. Speaking from his house in a London suburb, Jones described how he was talking to his daughter on a cell phone from his seat on a double-decker bus when he heard an explosion.

Mr. DAVID JONES (Bomb Attack Survivor): Just as I was explaining what was happening, there was this big thud, and you knew it was a bomb.

WATSON: Jones says a bomb blew off the roof of another bus just a few dozen yards behind him.

Mr. JONES: Everybody knew immediately, and then people on my bus shouted, `The bus behind us has exploded,' and there was a sudden rush of people to get from the top floor of the bus. They were pushing each other down the stairs to get out, and I shouted, `Keep calm! Don't panic.'

WATSON: Jones' daughter Anna(ph) says it was surreal to hear the drama unfold live on the telephone.

ANNA (Daughter of David Jones): It's almost like a film. I mean, you know, you don't expect to be on the phone to somebody and hear an explosion in London.

WATSON: Jones survived unharmed. Many other people were not so lucky. Rescue workers say many of the more than 700 people wounded suffered from burns, lacerations and broken limbs. Today, Queen Elizabeth visited some of these victims at the Royal London Hospital.

Queen ELIZABETH II: I know I speak for everyone in expressing my sympathy to those who have been caught up in these events, and above all to the relatives and friends of those who have lost their lives. My thoughts are also with the injured, some of whom I have been able to see and talk to today.

WATSON: Outside the hospital, a man named Mezmal Hasan(ph) says he was trying to remain calm as he searched for his niece, who has been who has been missing since yesterday.

Mr. MEZMAL HASAN: I was remaining somewhat optimistic, thinking that, `Well, maybe she's just been caught out in central London, because she doesn't know the streets within the city; she has no reason to know her way back. So I think as the day progressed, we realized that something is extremely wrong here. And by around about 6:00 in the evening, we were out looking for her.

WATSON: A police emergency line had reportedly handled more than 100,000 calls by midday today from people seeking information. Outside the King's Cross subway station, which remains partially roped off after yesterday's blasts, friends and relatives have begun taking the search for missing loved ones into their own hands. Flyers have appeared on some of the walls here. Some of them show a woman named Miriam Hyman, a man named Anthony Fatayi-Williams and a woman named Chung Ford Yen(ph). Their smiling faces appear above phone numbers and a plea for information for their whereabouts.

Nearby, a pile of flowers has been slowly growing on the sidewalk. Every few minutes, a pedestrian adds another bouquet to the pile. They are accompanied by handwritten cards with messages like `London, we love you,' `God bless you,' `We will never forget' and `Shame on them.' Ivan Watson, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ivan Watson
Ivan Watson is currently based in Istanbul, Turkey. Following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, he has served as one of NPR's foreign "firemen," shuttling to and from hotspots around the Middle East and Central Asia.