Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'All I Heard Was Sobbing'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'All I Heard Was Sobbing'

Article excerpt


ANOTHER Sunday morning, another Tube journey. Andre Schoombee was on his way to work at his lighting shop. In the next carriage Subash Dangol was reading the papers.

Mohammed Ishrat was on his way to work too, and worrying whether he was going to be late.

As the Northern line train approached Camden Town, Mr Schoombee, 28, checked his watch. It was 9.56am.

Suddenly he felt the train jolt sharply. He was thrown back in his seat and heard fellow passengers scream as they were flung across the carriage.

"The train started shaking," said Mr Schoombee, who lives in Walthamstow. "I was sure we had jumped the rail. There was this screeching - and the carriage lights were flashing on and off. It was surreal. People were being thrown on the floor. It felt like the roller coaster ride from hell."

As the train came to a halt Mr Schoombee's carriage - second from the end - was plunged into darkness. "The aftermath was worse," he said. "There was this awful burning smell and the carriage was thick with dust. All I could hear was muffled sobbing from a teenage girl next to me."

As panic threatened to grip the passengers, Mr Schoombee took control: he had served six years with the South African police.

"I tried to calm people and told them to sit back in their seats.

Nobody seemed badly hurt. I was really worried about a fire. I knew if there was one, we were all cooked."

Mr Schoombee felt it was only a matter of time before the emergency services would make an announcement.

"I told the group they would probably advise us to walk from carriage to carriage until we go to one that was in the station."

But the announcement never came. Nearly 10 minutes later and acting on his own initiative, Mr Schoombee led the frightened-group through the train.

When they reached the platform, he saw a lone guard shouting down his radio: "The brake pads flew off the f***ing thing. …

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