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7/7: Blitz on Britain: We brought the bodies up ..their mobiles began to ring.


A SHOCKED policeman yesterday told of his trip to hell as he picked his way through body parts of victims still entombed below King's Cross.

Sergeant Steve Betts said the scene in the Tube carriage was like "witnessing the end of the world."

He was speaking as the emergency services continued to work round-the-clock to recover bodies and clear the devastation.

The conditions were grim with an almost unbearable stench in 140F heat. Twenty bodies are believed to be still trapped in the wreckage of the Piccadilly Line train 150ft below ground and it is expected to be days before they are all recovered.

Yesterday as some bodies were brought to the surface the air was filled with the chilling sound of mobile phones ringing. Handsets in the victims' pockets had been unable to receive a signal since the attack as they lay in the Tube tunnel.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Trotter, of British Transport Police, said last night: "It's very tight at the point of the incident. The confined space made the devastation even more horrific. It is extremely hot. When the rescue teams were recovering live people, they overcame the difficulties. But we have had to stop and regroup.

"We don't know how many bodies are left in the carriage at the moment. It is very hot, dusty and dangerous. But we are continuing to recover bodies and they are being removed to the mortuary."

He said it would be "several days" before all the bodies were removed. "We are aware of the anguish of the relatives and our hearts go out to them." A police source said: "The mobile phones started ringing as soon as the bodies reached the surface. It is very distressing to hear the ringing sounds from simply hundreds of messages on the voicemails of phones belonging to the dead. It just made the crews realise how many people are still clinging to the belief that people caught up in the explosions are still alive. It brought tears to the eyes of some.

"Sadly the officers couldn't touch the phones because it's a crime scene. They weren't even able to let the people who made the calls know the truth."

At least 21 people died after the second of four bombs exploded at 8.56am on a Piccadilly Line train travelling from King's Cross to Russell Square. The blast caused the most devastation of three attacks on the underground because it happened so far below the surface. The deep tunnels caused the most problems for crews attempting to reach the injured. The death toll is rising as teams work around the clock to clear the partly collapsed tunnel of bodies. The grim task which began on Friday will last into next week.

Sergeant Betts, of London Transport Police, said: "It was a scene I can hardly describe. The roof of the train had collapsed so I had to almost crawl in. There were body parts everywhere - there was not one area that was not covered with organs or blood or bits of body.

"I could not help standing on 'things' - but I had to carry on and do my job.

"I was squashed in by chairs and dead bodies as we searched for anyone alive. It looked like someone had collected a lot of shop dummies, cut them up, poured black paint over them and filled the carriage." Sergeant Betts, 26, was one of the first to reach the devastated Tube on Thursday morning. He said: "It was pitch black and we had torches. The tunnel where the train was is about 150 metres down the track round a corner and there were still a few wounded coming towards us as we approached.

"As I walked down the track, I heard someone cry out for help but I couldn't see them. I called back and looked around but it was very smoky and dusty and they did not answer."

The moans of the dying will haunt Sergeant Betts for the rest of his life.

"I got into the train and it was quite obvious that this was something horrendous. There were people with limbs missing, huge open wounds with their organs showing and people were crying out and moaning and asking for help. I thought 'This is the worst thing I've ever seen'. We had to climb over bodies and body parts to try to help people and see who was still alive.

"I found a man and his leg had been blown off below the knee. There was another body next to him. There was also what I thought was a pile of clothes but, as I passed to try and get to the man, it moaned and asked me for help. It was a woman - she had all her limbs blown off. I think she died later on the concourse.

Sergeant Betts added: "When I came up to the street again the station was pretty quiet but someone asked me for directions, which made me smile and that made me feel more human. But as I stood there, I felt lonelier than I thought was possible, I just wanted to see a friend or somebody I knew to give them a hug."

Superintendent Jim Dickie, who is in charge of the operation to identify the recovered bodies and body parts, last night said the long process will start at a secret military site near central London

In some cases it could take months. He said in the stifling heat bodies are starting to decompose and refrigeration units have been moved as close as possible to the scene.

And the Underground's rats, which at first were driven away by the blasts, have begun to close in again.

REPORTING TEAM: Euan Stretch, Steve Martin, Dennis Ellam, Colin Wills, Grant Hodgson, Alan Rimmer, Michael Duffy, Ben Harvey, Rebecca Smith, John Bynorth, Brendan Montague, Lucy Lawrence, Maggie O'Riordan, Zoe Nauman, Piers Eady, Fiona Ford, Rupert Hamer, Justin Penrose, Andy Gardner, Danielle Lawler, Susie Boniface, John Kelly, Jon Kelly, Millicent Brown, Stewart MacLean, Karen Rockett, Tom Riley, Lara Gould, Simon Wright. PICTURE TEAM: Nicholas Bowman, Philip Coburn, Roy Fisher, Stan Kujawa, Paul Burgman, John Cobb, Neil Hall, Stuart Griffiths, Damien McFadden, James Boardman


Hero...Sgt Betts yesterday; A devastated member of a police forensics team is comforted by a colleague yesterday; Forensics experts show the strain yesterday after dealing with traumatic scenes undergournd; Tears at King's Cross yesterday
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 10, 2005
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