LONDON — Any city in the world has its own rhythm, a pulse that the residents become accustomed to with time. The rhythm that Londoners had become so used to skipped a beat last Thursday.
Starting at 8:56 a.m., one day after London won the election as host for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the city’s public transport system was rocked by a series of terrorist bombs.
Three of the explosions targeted London Underground trains, and a fourth tore the roof off a double-decker bus.
The explosions were so intense that police say none of 49 known dead have been identified. Another 50 are unaccounted for in the worst attack in Britain since World War II.
Emergency services were swift in responding to the attacks, evacuating the London Underground while urging pedestrians to remain indoors. Road signs outside the city advised travelers to “avoid London.”
In a statement made shortly after hearing news of the bombings, Prime Minister Tony Blair promised “the most intense police and security service action to make sure that we bring those responsible to justice.”
Al-Qaeda groups are widely suspected to have been behind the attacks, but there is no evidence of such a connection so far.
Only a single day after these attacks, it seems that London’s pulse has regained some regularity. While Queen Elizabeth II requested flags fly at half-mast, residents and tourists are back on the street and back in the tube.
Affected areas have been taped off, and some of the train lines are under repair, but Londoners are not afraid to continue using most trains. Buses are operating and people are on the streets.
Erika Blume, a German who now lives in East London, said that she sympathizes with the families who suffer from injury or loss, but recognizes that all life in London can not and will not cease to move on.
“I feel sad for the families of those that have been hurt and killed, but after the attacks, my friends and I, we ask ‘are you OK?’ and we are, so we go on. It’s what’s best to do,” Blume said.
The Daily Telegraph reported that former New York City mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who was in London at the time of the bombings was impressed by Londoners conduct.
“As we were walking through the streets of the city it was remarkable how the people of London responded calmly and bravely.” Giuliani said.
Many London residents feel the same way as the former Mayor.
“Most people are back to normal,” said Simon Hankin, “We’ve had this before with the IRA.”
Hankin, a 28 year-old raised in London, normally takes the Picadilly tube line through Russell Square and into King’s Cross. But because of rain, the trains were crowded, Hankin said, so he decided to walk to work. Had he taken the tube, Hankin believes he would have been near the explosion.
“It’s always a shock to see this go on, but we’ve had Irish terrorism for five, ten years — not properly on your doorstep — but I remember growing up myself, and everyone growing up with bombs going off around them,” Hankin said. “There’s always that feeling that something’s gonna happen, so you know, you gotta crack on as per usual, like today. Straight back in, straight back to work, straight back into classes.”