St Albans 7/7 survivor recalls terror attack

PUBLISHED: 19:01 27 October 2010

LONDON - In his handout photo released by the Metropolitan Police July 9, 2005, the London Underground train damaged in a terrorist bombing rests on the tracks at the Aldgate tube station. A massive police investigation is underway to track down suspected al-Qaeda bombers who stuck three Underground trains and a bus during the morning rush hour July 7, 2005, killing 49 people and injuring 700 others.  (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)

LONDON - In his handout photo released by the Metropolitan Police July 9, 2005, the London Underground train damaged in a terrorist bombing rests on the tracks at the Aldgate tube station. A massive police investigation is underway to track down suspected al-Qaeda bombers who stuck three Underground trains and a bus during the morning rush hour July 7, 2005, killing 49 people and injuring 700 others. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)

2005 Metropolitan Police

A BANKER from St Albans who was left for dead after being blown out of a tube train in the 7/7 attacks recounted the story of his incredible survival at the inquiry into the bombings last week.

Philip Duckworth was standing so near to suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer that he was blinded in his left eye by a splinter from the terrorist’s shin bone.

The investment banker described being thrown onto the tracks by the force of the blast and lying in a daze as he heard a passing rescuer say of him, “this one’s gone”.

The coroner hearing the inquests for the 52 victims of the atrocities said it was “astonishing” that he could be so close to the bomb and yet survive to tell his story.

Mr Duckworth travelled to London from St Albans on the same Thameslink train as the four bombers who boarded at Luton and alighted at King’s Cross before separating to carry out their deadly missions.

Despite Mr Duckworth staying on the Thameslink train until Farringdon station, he joined an eastbound Circle Line train and ended up standing just feet from Tanweer when he detonated his home-made rucksack bomb.

Recalling the moment of the explosion just before Aldgate station, he said: “There was a bright white flash. It wasn’t like a flash in the normal sense – I was sort of inside it and it seemed to go on forever. Then I don’t really remember anything after that.”

Mr Duckworth continued: “I woke up – in the very loosest sense of the word – on the rails and I had the fleeting thought at the time that I had fallen out of the train and it was just me and the train had gone.”

Lying on the tracks, he kept thinking about making it to Aldgate station, which he could just see in the distance.

“I just remember some guys went past. I can’t remember how many there were but there was a guy with a torch and I think they looked down and said, ‘oh no, this one’s gone’, and then moved on.

“At that point I was like, ‘no I’m not, hang on a second, I’m not gone’. That’s when I forced myself on to my knees and got up.”

Eventually rescuers evacuated him from the tunnel using a ladder as a makeshift stretcher.

Describing his injuries, he told the inquest: “I have lost my left eye, I’ve got a prosthetic eye in at the moment, which by all accounts looks very realistic – I’m pleased with that.

“It was a fragment of the bomber’s shin bone that went into my eye. I wasn’t aware of this at all, but that’s what made me blind in that eye.”

Hugo Keith QC, counsel to the inquests, said the evidence suggested he might have been much closer to Tanweer than he had thought.

After Mr Duckworth completed his evidence, coroner Lady Justice Hallett told him: “You have reduced us to silence. It is an astonishing story.

“The idea that you could be so close to the bomb, be blown out of the carriage and still be here to tell your story is just amazing.”

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