Bin With IRA Explosive Checked 3 Minutes Before Blast
LONDON (AP) _ Minutes before an IRA bomb exploded in a garbage can in a subway station, killing one person and injuring 40 people, a police officer checked the bin but failed to spot the explosive, authorities said today.
The disclosure came as police interviewed commuters and checked video cameras for additional clues to Monday’s Irish Republican Army bombing in Victoria Station in the London Underground.
The IRA claimed responsibility for the fatal explosion and another blast three hours earlier at Paddington station, which harmed no one.
The IRA said Monday night that police were to blame for the casualties at Victoria because they decided not to close the rail station despite a telephoned warning.
″All future warnings should be acted upon,″ the IRA statement said.
But Scotland Yard responded: ″For the terrorists to blame the police for their own outrages is particularly galling and almost beggars belief. Those responsible for the death and injuries were those who planted the bombs.″
Police said the warning - one of 19 they received during the morning - came about 45 minutes before the blast, and they did search all terminals.
″I actually came over to this side of the station and checked every bin on this side of the station and actually checked the bin where the explosive went off, three minutes before it went off,″ Constable Eric Turner, who was on duty at Victoria on Monday, told British Broadcasting Corp. television.
Meanwhile, other problems were reported on the subway system, commuters mourned Monday’s tragedy, and police continued their investigation.
About 5,000 commuters were evacuated from the London Underground when smoke began pouring from a train that was stopped during another bomb scare. Ten people were treated for shock and smoke inhalation.
At Victoria station, a bouquet of yellow flowers marked the point of Monday’s explosion.
The British news agency Press Association reported today that anti- terrorist officers believe Monday’s bombing was committed by the same IRA gang responsible for a Feb. 7 mortar attack on the prime minister’s office.
However, a spokesman for Scotland Yard, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he could not confirm the report.
The explosions did not stop most commuters by traveling by rail.
″I was a bit nervous about coming here today, but I thought it couldn’t happen again,″ said Sarah Stonard, 16, upon arriving at Victoria station.
Charlotte Smith, who said she was old enough to remember the German blitz in World War II, said: ″You have bomb scares every day in London. It’s just that yesterday was different.″
Also today, the youngest victim of the explosion, 12-year-old Hugh Carling, said from his hospital bed that he was on his way to a cricket course when he was caught in the blast.
″At the time, I didn’t feel any pain, but when I got outside into the light I realized I had lots of blood on my trousers,″ Carling said at Westminster Hospital. He said that IRA bombers are not ″top of the list of people I like to meet.″
Police identified the man killed as David Corner, a 36-year-old civil servant and father of an 18-month-old son.