Police have said they are dealing with a terrorist incident after a bomb exploded on a Tube train in South West London this morning.
The improvised explosive device detonated on the London Underground train at Parsons Green during rush hour when the service would have been at its busiest.
There were hundreds of commuters on the service at the time and large numbers of school children were also on board.
Police have now launched a manhunt to find whoever left the bomb on the train which caused a fireball to rip through the carriage.
Images from the scene show wires coming out of a white bucket on fire inside an insulated Lidl bag towards the rear of the train.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for counter terrorism, this morning declared a terrorist incident.
A reporter at the scene described seeing people who were ‘really, really badly burned’ and that ‘their hair was coming off.’
At the station there was panic and a stampede led to a crush in a stairwell with some people being injured.
The explosion happened as the train pulled into the station at Parsons Green and people ran from the train as soon as the doors opened.
BBC News presenter Sophie Raworth, who was at the scene, said she saw a woman on a stretcher with burns to her face and legs.
“I spoke to a woman, Laura Bishop, who said she was standing there and all of a sudden heard a bang – and saw a wall of flames, flames in the carriage,” she said.
“She saw people who had burns on their hair, burns on their head and the doors opened immediately.”
Ms Raworth added, “I have just seen a woman who was just stretchered off here and clearly her legs are wrapped up and she has burns.
“She had burns to her face – she’s conscious, she was taking oxygen and pain relief as well. She seemed to have burns all over her body from top to toe.”
One woman described how she had hurt her legs and had seen a large flame fill the carriage and another woman had ash in her hair.
Others went to nearby coffee shops before they were told to leave so that injured people could be treated.
People quickly started saying that a bomb had gone off, sparking panic. Initially people were told they could not leave the station before an evacuation took place.
Natasha Wills, of London Ambulance Service said, “We were called at 8.20am to reports of an incident at Parsons Green underground station.
“We have sent multiple resources to the scene including single responders in cars, ambulance crews, incident response officers and our hazardous area response team, with the first of our medics arriving in under five minutes.
“Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries. More information will follow when we have it.”
Six fire engines, two fire rescue units and around 50 firefighters and specialist officers are currently attending an incident at Parsons Green Tube station.
Director of Operations Tom George said:
“The Brigade was called at 0821 and firefighters were on the scene within three minutes. Fire crews assisted the London Ambulance Service in treating casualties on the affected train.
“Firefighters also helped evacuate 253 people from a train not involved in the incident. We continue to support the Metropolitan Police and other services at Parsons Green.”
Fire crews from Fulham, Wandsworth, Chelsea, Hammersmith and other surrounding fire stations are in attendance.
A Metropolitan Police Service spokesperson said: “Officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command are investigating after an incident on a London tube train this morning.
“Police were called at approximately 08:20hrs on Friday, 15 September to Parsons Green Underground Station following reports of a fire on the train.
“Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for CT policing, has declared it a terrorist incident.
“Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service and British Transport Police attended the scene, along with colleagues from the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service.
“At present we are aware of a number of people who have suffered injuries.
“It is too early to confirm the cause of the fire, which will be subject to the investigation that is now underway by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
“The station remains cordoned off and we are advising people to avoid the area.
“Anyone who has information that would assist detectives is urged to contact the hotline 0800 789 321; if it’s an emergency always call 999.
“Anyone with images from the scene is asked to upload them to www.ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk(opens in a new window)
“We urge the public to remain calm but alert and if you have any concerns, see or hear anything suspicious then contact police.”
Natasha Wills, Assistant Director of Operations at London Ambulance Service said:
“We can confirm we have taken 18 patients to hospital following the incident at Parsons Green underground station.
“We were called at 8:20am today, with the first ambulance crew arriving within five minutes.
“We have sent a number of resources to the scene including ambulance crews, officers and our Hazardous Area Response Team.
“We are working closely with our colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and London Fire Brigade at the scene; ensuring patients receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible.
“As we are very busy dealing with this incident, we would ask the public to only call us in a genuine emergency.”