Survivors of the Parsons Green tube train bomb attack broke down and wept on Thursday as they gave evidence at the trial of the man accused of planting the device.
They described how an enormous bang was followed by flying glass and a sheet of flame – “like a Bunsen burner”, one said – which rapidly swept through the crowded carriage.
One of the survivors, identified in court only as Miss S, became distressed as she described how her clothes caught fire after she was caught in the blast, while a second, Lucinda Glazebrook, began to weep as she was being assisted into the witness box at the Old Bailey.
As they did so, Ahmed Hassan, the 18-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker who is accused of constructing and planting the bomb, sat bent double in the dock, staring at the ground.
The court in London has heard that the homemade device only partially exploded, and the knives, screws, nails and bolts that had been packed around it were not not expelled across the train.
Miss S said she suffered severe burns on her legs, as well as burns on her hands and face, and was still being treated six months after the explosion.
She told the jury she heard a bang, and then people screaming. “I had burns, my knees were bad, my face was all burned. My coat was burning, my tights melted.”
Aimee Colville, who got on the train at Parsons Green moments before the explosion, said she saw a “wall of glass” coming towards her.
“The gentleman in front of me, I could see his head going forward, and the glass came into the back of him. I don’t know if I physically got myself down or if I blacked out, but at that point I noticed a flame come over my right side.
“It came over my side and that is when I smelt the burning.”
She added: “That morning I had curled my hair and I had put hairspray in my hair, so when the flames came over me my hair immediately caught fire.”
Glazebrook, who also boarded the train at Parsons Green, told the court she felt the heat from the fireball on her face.
“I kept touching my face and feeling the back of my hair and my hair was coming out in chunks,” she said. “I saw a woman and asked her if my face was burned.”
Daniel Prieto said he could feel his face being cut and burned at the same time. He had no recollection of leaving the train, but did recall seeing a man sitting on the platform, “with flames on his neck”.
Victoria Holloway, a student, said: “I heard a really loud bang and then I heard a whoosh – like the sound of a Bunsen burner when you light it. The flames were around my legs, and then they seemed to be sucked away from me.”
Footage of the moment the fireball swept along the train has been shown to the jury. Terrified passengers could be seen attempting to escape to safety as the flames engulfed the eastbound District Line train, which had just arrived at Parsons Green in west London.
There were 93 people in the carriage where the bomb was planted during the morning rush hour in September last year, the court has heard.
The court was also shown CCTV footage of a man alleged to be Hassan boarding the train and then alighting at the stop before Parsons Green.
The prosecution alleges that he constructed the bomb, carried it on to the train after setting its timer device, and then made his escape moments before it was due to explode.
Hassan, who was living at Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, denies attempted murder and causing an explosion.
The jury has heard that while making his asylum application, he twice told an immigration official that he had been “trained to kill by Isis” before fleeing Iraq, but denied having travelled to Europe on behalf of the group.
The prosecution says that Hassan made the bomb after purchasing two key ingredients on Amazon.
He then packed the device with 2.2kg of metal, including knives, nails, bolts and screw drivers, and carried it on to the train inside a bucket that was concealed inside a Lidl supermarket bag, said Alison Morgan, prosecuting.
The shrapnel was “designed to be propelled out of the device during the explosion, causing maximum harm and carnage to those in the surrounding area”, said Morgan.
The main 400g charge of homemade triacetone triperoxide (TATP) was to have been detonated by a battery-powered initiator.
The main charge may have failed to explode because the initiator was not sufficiently embedded in the TATP, or because the TATP had been poorly made, the court has heard. The trial continues.