A personal account of the terrorist attack of 27th July, 2012
The remains of the Olympic Stadium and the Tower
stand above the burnt out ruins of the Olympic village
It was supposed to be a day to remember. We had hopes of a proud nation showing the world what a great show we could put on. It was certainly a day which will never be forgotten.
It started well. Thousands flocked to the Olympic Stadium to watch the opening ceremony, the forerunner to the greatest sporting show on Earth. The first attacks came as people gathered at the Stratford site. It was subtle at first. Hardly anyone noticed that the mobile phone network had gone down. After all, it had happened on a smaller scale a few weeks before. It was just another glitch.
Then, as the opening ceremony got under way and the world watched on, the transport network started to fail. The trains stopped running, caught by massive failures in the signalling network and then the traffic lights went red all over London. But we were in the stadium watching the show, trapped and unable to get away even if it had occurred to us. It was to occur to us all too soon…
The flame entered the stadium and climbed towards the cauldron. As it touched, there was a blinding flash. The 80,000 people in the stadium were killed instantly as the nuke went off and ripped the stadium and its surrounds apart. All those years of work, gone in seconds.
Ironically, billions around the world were unaware of what was happening at first. Unlike New York where we watched the planes crashing into the World Trade Centre, we saw nothing. Screens simply went blank as the cameras melted. I was watching on TV at home. “Typical”, I thought. “The BBC cocks up just at the critical moment.” Then I heard a bang…
The blast wave spread outwards across London, flattening everything in its path. Nothing within a three mile radius was left standing. This was followed by the fireball, burning everything that was left.
They heard the blast in Birmingham, felt the vibrations in Swindon, saw the flash as far away as Dover. Nothing could have prepared us for it. The devastation was appalling, the death toll incalculable. No-one knows how many people died that day or how many more died later as a result of the radiation.
For those who survived, the injuries were terrible. The hospitals and emergency services were completely overwhelmed. The logistics of coping with the evacuees from the danger zone were mind boggling. Chernobyl was a picnic compared to this. Hiroshima was nothing.
To this day we still have no idea who was responsible. We have no way of striking back. We only know that the centre of the explosion was somewhere in the Olympic village, but the vaporised remains left no clues. The timing suggests that it was a suicide attack and the detonation was manual but nobody really knows.
We made ourselves a target. We should have seen it coming.
They said that the 9/11 attacks changed world history, but it was nothing compared to this…