Rush Hour Terror

7 July 2005, London, UK: As George Psaradakis, 49, drove a No. 30 double-decker red bus through the streets of London last Thursday, there were signs that something was wrong. The city’s traffic–never easy–was in a state of chaos. Thousands of commuters had left Underground train stations and were milling about the streets looking for alternative ways to get to work. Few of them had any idea of the scale of the devastation below: moments before, three bombs had gone off in the space of a minute on London’s Underground railway. Psaradakis, whose bus was packed, had been forced to divert from the main roads into the leafy squares of Bloomsbury, home to the colleges of the University of London. At 9:47 he stopped his bus in Tavistock Square to get directions. Just then, Lou Stein, an American theater producer who has lived in London for 20 years, heard a tremendous thud from his apartment 100 yards away and ran outside. “It was oddly silent,” he says, with “a lot of distressed people crying into each other’s arms. The top of the bus was lifted off, like the top of a tin can that’s just been ripped open. There was smoke everywhere.” When a TIME reporter arrived on the scene about 25 minutes later, he could see smears of blood all over the façade of the British Medical Association headquarters in the square and survivors comforting each other. Psaradakis survived, but at least 13 others died in the blast. Witnesses told of seeing severed limbs and a body with its head blown off.