LONDON — A rush hour blast caused by an improvised explosive device on a London Underground train which injured 22 people on Friday is being treated as terrorism by London’s Metropolitan Police.
None of the injured is thought to be in a serious or life-threatening condition, according to the London Ambulance Service.
The blast occurred about 8:20 a.m. (1:20 a.m. MDT) on a busy commuter line into central London.
Deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing, has declared it a terrorist incident, the Met Police said in a statement.
“We now assess that this was a detonation of an improvised explosive device,” Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said at a news conference.
Most of the reported injuries appear to be the result of flash burns, he said.
Asked if police had any information on the perpetrator, Rowley said: “It’s a live investigation.”
Hundreds of detectives are working on the inquiry, he said, with the support of Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5.
Downing Street tweeted a message from Prime Minister Theresa May, saying: “My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident.”
May will chair an emergency COBRA meeting on Friday after the London underground terror incident, Downing Street said.
Parsons Green station is closed, a large security cordon has been put in place and large numbers of emergency responders, including armed police officers, are at the scene.
London Ambulance Service said a number of responders, including its hazardous area response team, were present.
“We can confirm we have taken 18 patients to hospital following the incident at Parsons Green underground station,” said Natasha Wills, the ambulance service’s assistant director of operations.
“Suddenly, there was this boom,” eyewitness Gustavo Vieira said. “Everyone shouting and screaming. … We were just leaving the carriage [when the explosion happened]. … Just heard and everyone starting running. … And I didn’t look back.”
He said everyone was taken to a nearby restaurant, where some were treated by first responders.
Software developer Sylvain Pennec told the U.K.’s Press Association news agency he heard a “boom and when I looked there were flames all around.”
“People started to run but we were lucky to be stopping at Parsons Green as the door started to open,” Pennec said.
Richard Aylmer-Hall, 52, a media technology consultant, described “panic” on the train in an interview with PA.
“There was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming, lots of screaming,” he said.
“There was a woman on the platform who said she had seen a bag, a flash and a bang, so obviously something had gone off,” he said. “I saw two women being treated by ambulance crews.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was coordinating with the police and authorities and urged Londoners to “remain calm and vigilant.”
“Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life,” he said. “As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.”
President Donald Trump tweeted his reaction to the incident.
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”
Niyi Shokunbi, a 24-year-old fitness instructor who was on the train, said there had been scenes of panic as people scrambled to get off the packed train on to a small station platform.
There were children and elderly people among them, he said.
Video clips filmed by Shokunbi showed one person lying on the ground being helped by an emergency responder and another lying on a stretcher.
James MacNaughton, who was stuck on a train behind the one on which the incident occurred, said he and other passengers had been evacuated in small groups by walking down the train line.
“There is a really strong police presence, helicopters overhead, lots of dogs,” he said.
The security cordon around the station, which is above ground, has been extended and many emergency vehicles remain at the scene.
Parsons Green is an affluent, mainly residential area popular with young families in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, not far from Chelsea.
“I was looking up at the train and I heard screams,” said Katy Llewellyn-Jones, who lives nearby.
Llewellyn-Jones said she had given shelter in her apartment to a woman who had lost her shoes in the confusion and had asked for somewhere safe to go.
“She said as she was running off, people didn’t realize [what had happened] and people were still trying to get on the Tube,” Llewellyn-Jones said.
“It’s frightening to think this can happen right by your home.”