Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

On the Way to Warren Street | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Media ID: 55289290

AP photo

AP photo

AP photo

London, Asharq Al Awsat-It did not take long to reach Warren Street tube station in central London from Asharq Al-Awsat”s headquarters on High Holborn, although it had been a while since the reports of suspected bombings.

It was not hard for the average person to work out that something out of the ordinary was happening, as all the indications were appearing one after another. First, there was a sudden and unusual traffic jam, and then came the surrounding noise of police sirens, and finally a problem with the phone networks, which meant that it was very difficult to make or receive calls on mobile phones.

Next to Tottenham Court Road station, there were groups of people waiting around until a newscast was broadcasted suddenly on the TV screens of an electronics shop. A young blonde girl was fearfully crying, her elder sister was hugging her and trying to comfort her, whilst their mother was watching the TV screen and murmured, &#34This is what you get when you are too nice to people&#34.

On the way to Warren Street, a middle-aged woman hurried and struggled to hold back tears, as she was having problems making a call from her mobile phone. After asking her if she was ok, she replied, &#34Yes, but I use that tube daily&#34. I asked for her name, as she walked away saying, &#34I am sorry, but all I want to do now is just to reach my office&#34.

Clearly, most people were having problems in using their mobile phones to make calls, but not in using them as cameras as they took snap shots of the police force in action.

On the other side, there was a long queue of people waiting to use the reliable public telephones after losing hope in their mobile phones. Meanwhile, others gathered around a flower shop that hung a radio outside to find out what was happening.

Although many were worried, the atmosphere was not chaotic. In fact, most people remained drinking their coffees at ”Café Nero” near by.

Elget Lee, who works in a furniture outlet next to Warren Street station, says she did not hear any explosion. &#34Well, it would have happened underground anyway, but I knew there was something wrong the minute I saw police cars rushing in and when they asked us to remain in our shops but away from the windows&#34.

Lee was more concerned about her sister who lives near Hackney Road, and said that she had tried to call her many times but could not get through. &#34She finally called me on the shop”s number to tell me she was ok&#34, Lee explains.

In the mean time, the police were asking people to go back even further to where Goodge Street station is situated. The only exception were the journalists. They were satisfied with the presentation of an identity card or a camera to allow us to walk into the restricted area. It was a matter of minutes, before numerous journalists showed up.

At one point, a shirtless Asian man ran into the restricted area ignoring the instructions of the officers. He was pursued and stopped by two police officers who discovered that he was a truck driver and was concerned about his vehicle. The police officers released the man and asked to him follow instructions in the future.

My colleague, the newspaper”s photographer said, &#34the police officers are very calm this time, unlike 7/7&#34. Perhaps the best explanation for this is what one analyst argued that 7/7 was a practical exercise for security forces.

We waited for hours at the barriers and police officers refused to answer any questions, and they were unaware whether any official would be coming to talk to us. At that point, we heard somebody say that Tony Blair was making a speech.

We ran back to the electronics outlet where people were still gathered as they listened to what Blair had to say. &#34This is the worst lunch break I”ve ever had&#34 someone said as he watched carefully and it would appear that many would agree with him.