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Deep Tube tunnels aggravate 'difficult' bomb rescue conditions


POLICE RESCUERS have this week spoken out about the immense difficulties in gaining access to the Piccadilly Line train devastated by last Thursday's terrorist attacks on London.

Bombs were exploded on three Tube trains at the peak of Thursday's rush hour. A fourth bomb was exploded on the top deck of a bus.

More than 700 people were injured in the blasts, and as NCE went to press on Tuesday, 52 bodies had been recovered from the four sites.

Most of those who died were travelling between King's Cross and Russell Square stations on the deep level Piccadilly Line, where the impact of the blast was intensifi ed within the confi nes of a 2.8m wide train in a single track 3.66m diameter tunnel.

'A bomb going off in one of our deep Tube tunnels has always been our biggest fear, ' admitted London mayor Ken Livingstone.

The bomb exploded through the floor of the train and blew passengers against the sides of the tunnel. Bodies are still being found underneath and around the train.

British Transport Police deputy chief constable Andy Trotter is leading the rescue operation. He spoke exclusively to NCE about the difficulties of accessing the carriage where the bomb exploded, 30m below ground and 600m from the platform at Russell Square.

'The Piccadilly Line is a very narrow single tunnel with no forced ventilation. We've had to dam up the tunnel either side of the train to stop fumes [from the explosion] entering the rest of the system.

'There are fi ve teams of up to three people working in relay to retrieve bodies. They're not using breathing apparatus yet, but may have to soon, ' said Trotter.

Temperature in the tunnel has reached 60 oC and problems with decomposing bodies, vermin and dust is making conditions 'extremely diffi cult' for investigators.

Trotter told NCE that contractors were using cutting equipment to get through the mangled trains, adding to the heat in the tunnels.

Body recovery teams are using a battery operated trolley along the tracks to get to the damaged carriages quicker.

Investigators are also accessing the centre of the train via a cross passage from the eastbound tunnel.

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