London police are treating an explosion on a London Underground train at Parsons Station as a “terror incident.” Twenty-nine people were injured and have been taken to local hospitals. On Saturday morning, an 18-year-old man was arrested in Dover in connection with the attack.
The Islamic State has claimed the attack was carried out by an affiliate group, police confirmed, USA Today reports. The suspect hasn’t been identified yet.
The blast happened at about 8:20 a.m. local time (3:20 a.m. ET) during rush hour in Central London. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said in a press conference that the blast was the “detonation of an improvised explosive device.” Metropolitan Police tweeted that they have declared this a “terrorist incident.”
The train was headed eastbound from Wimbledon. The station is still closed at this time and people are being told to avoid the area.
“Today and over the weekend the public can expect to see a heightened police presence, particularly in crowded places and at transport hubs,” Rowley said in a statement. “As always we urge the public to remain calm but alert; if they have any concerns, see or hear anything suspicious then please contact the police on the confidential hotline 0800 789 321. In an emergency always call 999.”
A manhunt is underway for the suspect, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan told a radio station that he was not allowed to discuss who the suspect is or if police have one in mind.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the threat level in the U.K. will stay at “severe,” which means that another attack is still “highly likely.”
“But this will be kept under review as the investigation progresses,” May said. “The public should go about their daily lives but remain vigilant. People who are travelling in London will see an increase armed police presence on the transport network and security will be increased.”
Here’s what we know so far about the attack. This is a breaking story and will continue to be updated.
1. 30 People Were Injured in the Attack & an 18-Year-Old Man Was Arrested in Connection
The National Health Service confirmed that 29 patients were rushed to nearby hospitals and trusts. The London Ambulance Service added that none of the patients “are thought to be in a serious or life-threatening condition.”
In the NHS’ 17:30 p.m. update, officials updated the number of victims to 29, who were all rushed to area hospitals. The eight patients at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ have already been released. By Saturday morning, the number of injuries climbed to 30.
“We can confirm we have taken 18 patients to hospital following the incident at Parsons Green underground station,” Natasha Wills, Assistant Director of Operations at London Ambulance Service, said in a statement. “We were called at 8:20am today, with the first ambulance crew arriving within five minutes. We have sent a number of resources to the scene including ambulance crews, officers and our Hazardous Area Response Team.”
Passenger Peter Crowley told the BBC that there was a “really hot intense fireball above my head,” adding that there were “people a lot worse than me.”
Police said Saturday morning that an 18-year-old man was arrested in Dover by Kent police.
“We have made a significant arrest in our investigation this morning. Although we are pleased with the progress made, this investigation continues and the threat level remains at critical,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said in a statement. “The public should remain vigilant as our staff, officers and partners continue to work through this complex investigation. We are not, at this time, changing our protective security measures and the steps taken to free up extra armed officers remain in place. This arrest will lead to more activity from our officers. For strong investigative reasons we will not give any more details on the man we arrested at this stage.”
2. The Explosion Was Caused by an ‘Improvised Explosive Device’ That Didn’t Fully Explode
ABC News reports that police determined the explosion was caused by an “improvised explosive device,” but it did not fully explode. Scotland Yard hasn’t made any arrests at this early stage of the investigation.
A government official also told ABC News that this appears to be an isolated incident.
“The emergency services attended and at this stage we are treating the matter as a terrorist-related incident and the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command will take responsibility for that investigation,” Deputy Constable of British Transport Police Adrian Hanstock said in a statement. “At this stage it’s little early to draw any full conclusions as to what the circumstances and cause of that explosion are and we are investigating and exploring that at the moment. We will get further information throughout the day but for now we just remind people to remain alert and report anything suspicious to the emergency services.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that its Counter Terrorism Command is investigating the incident as a “terrorist incident.” “We urge the public to remain calm but alert & if you have any concerns, see or hear anything suspicious then contact police,” the police added. They added that the device is being “forensically examined.”
The BBC is reporting that the device had a timer. BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner added that the attack could have been “far worse” if the bomb didn’t “partially” fail.
Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said at a press conference that hundreds of detectives are already on the case, with the help of MI5, reports CNN. When asked if he had any idea who might be behind the attack, Rowley only said it was a “live investigation.”
3. A Witness Said There Was a ‘Human Stampede’ to Get Out of the Station
One witness, Emma Stevie, told the BBC that there was a “human stampede” to get out away from the explosion.
“I heard lots of screams and people saying ‘run, run’,” she told the BBC. “We got out and then there was a human stampede, down the stairs. “There were people lying underneath getting crushed, a big human pile-on. I wedged myself in next to a railing. I put myself in the fetal position. I kept thinking, ‘I’ll be ok, I’ll be ok.'”
She said she saw a pregnant woman and was trying not to crush her. She also said she saw a young boy with injuries.
“It was horrible, I can’t think how many people were underneath me in the crush,” Stevie told the BBC.
“Suddenly there was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming,” another witness, Richard Aylmer-Hall, told the BBC. “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.”
“Suddenly, there was this boom,” eyewitness Gustavo Vieira told CNN. “Everyone shouting and screaming….We were just leaving the carriage [when the explosion happened]… Just heard and everyone starting running….And I didn’t look back.”
Vieira told CNN that many of the injured were taken to a nearby restaurant for immediate treatment from first responders.
Eyewitness Chris Wildish told Sky News that there were many schoolchildren on the train. “There was out of the corner of my eye a massive flash of flames that went up the side of the train,” Wildish said, reports the Associated Press.
“I saw crying women, there was lots of shouting and screaming, there was a bit of a crush on the stairs going down to the streets,” commuter Richard Aylmer-Hall told the AP.
“I was on the train, about two carriages from the front, and I was talking with my friend and all of the sudden people started screaming and running,” Alex Ojeda-Sierra, a 13-year-old student, told the New York Times at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. “I dropped my bag and we started running. My friend was ahead by a meter. I tripped and he carried on running. One man fell on me and I had my legs bent backwards and my right ankle got twisted and I started screaming that I had no air.”
“I had my headphones on, then I felt a kind of vibration, followed by a wave of heat, and I looked down and the whole carriage was in flames,” another witness, Adam Davis, told the Times. “I just got up and ran, but the carriage door was jammed with people. Everyone was screaming and trying to get out, people had blood on them everyone was pushing. It was like a stampede.”
4. Mayor Sadiq Khan Told Londoners to ‘Remain Calm & Vigilant’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement that he is in contact with Metropolitan Police and other officials. He will be at an emergency cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May this afternoon.
“Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life,” Khan wrote. “As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.” He added, “I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant, and to check TfL’s website for travel advice.”
“My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident,” May tweeted.
5. U.S. President Donald Trump Blamed the Attack on a ‘Loser Terrorist’
Although very little is known about the motive behind the explosion, U.S. President Donald Trump blamed it on a “loser terrorist.”
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive,” Trump tweeted. “Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner.The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”
London police told CNN that Trump’s comments are “pure speculation given we don’t know who is involved. Any speculation is unhelpful.”
London has already been the target of several terrorist attacks this year. In June, there was an attack on London Bridge. There was also an attack near Parliament in March and another at a mosque in June. Twenty-two people were also killed in Manchester in May.
As The Associated Press notes, the London Underground has also been specifically attacked in the past. In July 2005, suicide bombers attacked three subway trains and a bus, killing 52 people. Last year, Damon Smith left a homemade bomb on a train and it failed to explode.