London is recovering. The Underground website even lists a “normal service” on some lines this morning. Londoners are curiously underwhelmed. Most of the folks in my office didnt down tools and watch the coverage but quietly carried on their work and left a little early to try and get home. We have lived with the very real threat of this kind of thing for decades. Most of us have felt explosions more than once. As I explained in a post last night, one of my most overwhelming feelings is of gratitude that it wasnt worse.
Baratron speaks for many:
I imagine it’s worse for you because of 9/11 flashbacks, but we’re ok. Seriously. London has been dealing with bombs since the Blitz in WWII. We had the IRA blowing up parts of London and SE England for 25 years, forgodsake. Even despite their ceasefire, we still have reinforced post boxes and litter bins on the streets, and no litter bins on public transport. (This was the thing that amazed me most about recent travels in the US – the authorities claiming they were afraid of attack, yet there were bins everywhere – even in the airports!)
Questions are emerging on some blogs about why initial coverage was so confused. It may even be that the very first comments about “power surges” were deliberate misinformation to prevent panic. If that is part of the plan of managing an event like yesterday then fair enough. A disadvantage of such an approach would have been that the absense of clear and dependable information does not inspire confidence that the response is co-ordinated as well as we hope. To be honest though, I suspect that the confusion that reigned through much of yesterday merely reflected the services being more concerned about saving lives than being sure exactly what had happened and exactly how many explosions there were.
It did seem somewhat strange that early reports were of more explosions than were since confirmed, but the most likely explanation of that is that the bombs occured underground in between stations and victims emerged at both. Maybe some of the reports were about controlled explosions- I think we need to know how more about if any unexploded devices were found. Rumours still fly around without general confirmation- was there a suicide bomber shot at Canary Wharf as some bloggers report? We dont know if the report is true any more than reports I saw on only one main stream media site which spoke of unexploded bombs being discovered.
One blogger even cites apparent eye-witness testimony that suggests there were further explosions. One of the problems of course is that we simply do not know who to trust. But then nor does the mainstream media. How can we be sure that eyewitness testimony given on blogs or live on TV is actually genuine? In time no doubt blogging will play a major role in news reporting as blogs are all about reputation built up over time. If a well-known blogger was to report that they had been caught up in the bombs then no doubt those who trusted them would have no problem believing what they said. I doubt though that yesterday there were many people who made up stories.
One survivor who has a harrowing report of what it was like to be stuck underground wants to know why all the Tube stations werent closed immediately. My gut reaction to that is to say that they could not make such a decision in minutes when no one new that more than one bomb was involved, and it is genuinely possible no one realised it was a bomb at first.
There have been official denials by mobile phone companies that the mobile phone network was shut down. Personally I wonder why it wasnt- we know that bombs can be triggered by mobile phones so I would have thought that would be the first thing the authorities would have done. But I am quite sure that the authorities new exactly what they were doing in this as other matters.
Hopefully today, we will begin to understand more about what actually happened. We need to stand together as indeed we are. The Americans are identifying with us- adding union jacks to their blogs and even flying one at the state department-
Police officers raise a British flag in front of the State Department in Washington, D.C., Thursday, July 7, 2005, in remembrance of those killed in the London bombings. It was the first time a foreign flag has been raised at the State Department.