Graphic video of mangled and bloodied subway train carriages were shown Tuesday at an inquiry into the 2005 London suicide bombings, as families of the victims heard harrowing details of the carnage immediately after one of Britain's deadliest attacks.
The relatives viewed previously classified footage showing how an improvised bomb ripped through a train carriage on July 7, 2005, charring the ceiling and blowing out windows and doors. The videos also showed large pools of blood on seats and the floor _ although they were heavily edited to cut out scenes showing bodies to minimize stress to bereaved families.
The inquest at London's Royal Courts of Justice opened Monday to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of 52 commuters in the attacks. Four British Muslim suicide bombers detonated devices aboard three subway trains and a double-decker bus, killing themselves and also injuring hundreds.
Attorneys told the inquest Tuesday that the force of one of the blasts at King's Cross was so great that the bodies of six victims were blown on to the tracks.
The bomb that went off on the King's Cross train was the deadliest of the four attacks because up to 1,500 passengers were squeezed inside the train's carriages, said Hugo Keith, chief counsel to the inquest. Twenty-six people died in the explosion.
A police video filmed later that day after the train had been cleared of bodies showed piles of abandoned personal belongings and newspapers trampled by fleeing passengers.
In another video shown Tuesday, a Circle line train carriage's double doors were completely ripped off, the ceiling was partially collapsed and handrails laid on the floor.
Keith said the emergency services were confronted by a "horrifying scene of mangled flesh, torn bodies, debris and metal." Maimed bodies with amputated limbs lay scattered throughout the carriages, as paramedics attempted to distinguish between the dead and the dying in the darkness, he said.
The horrific accounts were countered by acts of "remarkable heroism and human fortitude," Keith said, describing how some passengers risked their safety to help the injured lying in the wreckage.
The hearings are expected to last five months. The coroner, senior judge Heather Hallett, is studying how each victim died, whether the emergency services' response was adequate and whether the intelligence services and police could have prevented the attacks.
British inquests are fact-finding inquiries that take place when a person dies violently or under unusual circumstances. They can't establish civil or criminal liability, but in this case the investigation will give families of victims the chance to ask officials if more could have been done to prevent the attacks.