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London bomb probe reveals communication breakdown

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) Emergency crews at last July's London bombings were let down by poor communications and flawed plans to deal with survivors, a six-month inquiry will conclude today.

Some rescuers relied on radios which did not work on the underground rail network and others' mobile phones failed, the report by the elected London Assembly will say.

Four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters and injured 700 in attacks on three trains and a bus in the capital during the morning rush hour on July 7, 2005.

Richard Barnes, chairman of the committee which wrote the report, said police, fire and ambulance crews had been ''incredibly brave'' but that lessons needed to be learned after their communications broke down.

An over-reliance on mobile phones was exposed when police in the City of London financial district ordered the temporary shutdown of part of the network without checking with those leading the response.

''We actually had someone acting outside the command structure on July 7 and that was not necessarily helpful,'' Barnes told BBC Radio.

The failure to give survivors a central place to gather after the bombings to receive help and give their details was another key mistake, he added.

Many survivors and victims' relatives have called for a full public inquiry into the bombings, the first suicide attacks in Western Europe.

Some commentators have said Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for the US-led war in Iraq helped fuel home-grown terrorism by radicalising a minority of British Muslims.

The London Assembly set up a cross-party review body in September 2005 to examine the lessons to be learnt from the bombings.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has said the emergency response ''worked virtually perfectly,'' but witnesses have exposed serious failings during the inquiry.

In March, survivors said some emergency crews were slow to respond to the explosion on a train at Aldgate, in the City of London financial district, over fears of a secondary blast.

One passenger, named only as Michael, said he walked past police and fire crews on the platform as commuters lay dying in a nearby tunnel.

Harrowing accounts from victims were due to be published as part of the report. Some of the evidence from people caught in the blasts has never been heard before.

Three Britons detonated bombs on separate underground trains and a fourth bomber blew himself up on the bus in central London about an hour later.

London Underground were the first to realise something had happened when their system reported power failures on the bombed train lines.

First reports said there had been an electrical power surge on the train network.

The bombers used simple ingredients for the devices in an operation that probably cost less than 8,000 pounds, the government has said.

Officials have warned that another attack is almost certain.

REUTERS SI HS1336

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