10 September 2005

Today in history: Bomb blasts rock central London


10 September 1973

The King's Cross bomb shattered glass in the old booking hall

Scotland Yard is hunting a teenage suspect after two bombs at mainline stations injured 13 people and brought chaos to central London.

The first explosion at King's Cross - which injured five people - occurred seconds after a witness saw a youth throw a bag into a booking hall.

Fifty minutes later a second blast rocked a snack bar at Euston station, injuring a further eight people.

No group has yet said it planted the bombs, but police have said the 2-3 lb (0.9-1.4 kg) bombs were typical of IRA manufacture.

The King's Cross bomb - which exploded without any warning at 1224 BST - shattered glass throughout the old booking hall and hurled a baggage trolley several feet through the air.

"I saw a flash and suddenly people were being thrown through the air - it was a terrible mess, they were bleeding and screaming," a witness said.

The second explosion occurred just minutes after the Press Association received a telephoned warning from a man with an Irish accent, and the police had very little time to clear the station.

The manageress of the Euston bar targeted by the bombers said officers ran up and down the platforms with loudhailers telling everybody to get out.

"About three minutes after we heard 'bomb scare!' the blast went off," she said.

Scotland Yard said it received more than one hundred hoax telephone calls throughout the day and was forced to evacuate three other London stations.

Officers have issued a photofit picture of the 5 ft 2 in tall, 15-17 year-old they wish to question about the King's Cross explosion.

In Context

The IRA said they were behind the explosions which came during one of their sustained periods of activity in England.

Two days before, on 8 September, there were bombs in Manchester city centre and at Victoria station in London.

And forty-eight hours later further blasts in the country's capital rocked Oxford Street and Sloane Square.

The IRA's 1970s bombing campaign in England began soon after Bloody Sunday in 1972 and ended after the Balcombe Street siege in December 1975.

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