Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

I am still haunted by Canary Wharf, says bomb victim

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 08/02/2016

Scene of the Docklands bombing in February 1996
Scene of the Docklands bombing in February 1996
Survivor: Jonathan Ganesh

A man pulled from the wreckage of the Canary Wharf bomb has said he is still haunted by the scenes of carnage 20 years later.

Jonathan Ganesh suffered serious injuries when the IRA detonated a half-tonne bomb in the heart of London's Docklands.

The explosion, just after 7pm on February 9, 1996, marked the end of its 17-month ceasefire.

Two people died and 39 others were injured, some traumatically.

Speaking on the eve of the 20th anniversary, Mr Ganesh recalled how, fearing he was about to die, he lay on the ground begging God to save his life.

"I will never forget what they did that night. Never," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Ganesh was working as a security guard and was about an hour into his shift when the bomb exploded.

He was 50 yards from the lorry containing the 500kg device.

"There was the flash of light, then this tremendous plume of smoke, and I realised I was being hit by debris and glass," he said.

"I was rolling on the floor, praying.

"I really believed that I was going to die that night.

"I remember praying, and I can still remember what I said to God. I kept saying: 'Please save me, please help me. Please God'."

Today, 20 years on, Mr Ganesh cannot escape the horrors of that night.

Even the sound of thunder is enough to bring back painful memories.

"November is the worst time for me," he added.

"I used to love fireworks, but if I hear fireworks go off or thunder, it does take me back and I think I'm being buried alive again.

"You might be sleeping and you hear a bang and suddenly you wake up in fear."

The bomb had been loaded on to a lorry in south Armagh, taken across the Irish Sea and driven down the length of England.

It was parked under the train tracks in London's new financial district, close to Canary Wharf tower.

The explosion happened just metres from where Inam Bashir (29) and John Jeffries (31) were working in a newsagents. Both were killed.

Mr Ganesh said the men - both close friends - were "the most innocent people you could imagine".

He was so devastated at their deaths that, in the wake of the explosion, he wished he had died that night instead.

"It broke my heart, I was very close to both of them," he added.

"They worked in a shop and when I was on duty I would call with them, and they would always have kept my favourite chicken salad sandwich for me.

"I can't tell you how much I miss them. They were the nicest, kindest people.

"They were about four metres from the bomb and it was so powerful it blew them five shops upwards.

"They were left in bits and pieces.

"For a time I wished it was me that had been killed. I was absolutely devastated that they never made it out.

"They were two young men. They were the most innocent people you could imagine.

"All JJ cared about was his guitar, and for Inam it was his motorbike.

"They had no connection to Ireland, they wouldn't have had any inclination about the Troubles.

"How and why they ended up dead is a mystery to me."

Mr Ganesh still bears the scars - emotionally and physically - of that night.

He is partially deaf in one ear and his body is still marked by the wounds he suffered.

He now leads the Docklands Victims Association, which works in troubled spots around the world.

In 2014 it worked tirelessly to try and secure the release of Alan Henning, the British aid worker kidnapped and later beheaded by ISIS.

Mr Ganesh has also campaigned for compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism.

He is strongly critical of how victims have been treated by the British Government.

"The IRA worked with Gaddafi to kill innocent people, and all those involved must be held accountable," he added. "It is a terrible failure by our government, and we have to ask why.

"By what they have done, in not pursuing Libya for compensation, they have devalued the life of every UK and Irish citizen.

"I went to America and spoke to senators.

"The US Government could not fight for us, they said our government should be fighting for us. It is a terrible injustice."

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph