In the immediate aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London — amid the terrifying darkness of the Tube network — commuters came together to try to save their fellow passengers.
Yesterday, at the inquest into the deaths of the 52 innocent people killed in the attacks, their stories were finally told.
During the second day of the inquest, personal details about the lives of all of the victims and exactly how they met their deaths were listed by Hugo Keith QC, the counsel for the coroner. As he went through the names of the deceased, he also made mention of several brave passengers who risked their own lives to go to the aid of their fellow commuters. They were, Mr Keith said, “acts of remarkable heroism and human fortitude”.
The bombings began at 8.49am on 7 July 2005, with the first blast at Aldgate. The court heard that the Circle line train was moving at 10-15mph when its driver, Timothy Batkin, heard a “muffled thud”. Mr Batkin, unable to use his temperamental train radio, quickly used his own mobile phone to alert those above ground to the tragedy unfolding on his train. Then, hearing the screams of passengers shouting “help us, help”, he evacuated passengers from the front of the train before going to the rear to do the same.
Dr Gerardine Quaghebeur, a passenger on the Circle line train, began treating the wounded alongside her fellow traveller Stephen Desborough. Together they came across Lee Baisden, who had been killed instantly by the blast. Dr Quaghebeur also tended to Fiona Stevenson, a 29-year-old solicitor. The doctor felt a pulse and tended to Ms Stevenson for 20 minutes until a paramedic arrived. By that time she was dead.
At Edgware Road, passengers from a train travelling parallel to the one bombed by Mohammad Sidique Khan smashed the windows of their own carriage and clambered across the tracks to hurry to the aid of the wounded “without regard for their personal safety”, said Mr Keith.
The inquest, which is expected to last five months, continues.