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London Bridge police ‘unaware’ medics nearby

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Posted on : June 11, 2019

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Police treating casualties of the London Bridge attack were unaware ambulances were waiting nearby, the officer in charge has said.

Supt Ross McKibbin told the Old Bailey inquest into the deaths of the eight people killed that some victims waited 25 minutes before paramedics saw them.

He said police did not have technology to see the location of ambulances.

He offered “sincere condolences” to the parents and fiancee of Xavier Thomas for not being able to save his life.

In the space of three minutes the attackers struck Mr Thomas, 45, and Christine Archibald, 30, with a van on the bridge then fatally stabbed Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, around Borough Market.

Another 48 people were injured in the attack on 3 June 2017.

Image caption The victims of the London Bridge attack (clockwise from top left): Christine Archibald, Sebastien Belanger, Kirsty Boden, Ignacio Echeverria, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas, Alexandre Pigeard, James McMullan

The attackers – Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22 – were shot and killed by police less than 10 minutes after their violent spree began.

Almost immediately after the attack, unarmed police officers and members of the public treated several people who had been stabbed and critically injured in Borough Market.

Supt McKibbin told the inquest that police initially had no way of knowing there were ambulances assembling in a safe area a short distance away.

It took about 25 minutes for them to get the information and take their casualties to paramedics, he said.

He told the inquest there was “absolutely” a case for giving police equipment in the future that would allow them to see the location of ambulance personnel or vehicles.

At the inquest

Hanna Yusuf, BBC News

Supt Ross McKibbin was in charge of the police response to the attack and in court outlined in considerable detail the careful thought that goes into such an operation.

He said the Met Police and City of London forces were overwhelmed by the amount of information that came in on that night.

They had seen the carnage unfolding on London Bridge via CCTV footage from the roof of St Thomas’ Hospital.

Supt McKibbin repeatedly described what he and his force witnessed as “chaos”.

Police, he said, received more than 500 pieces of unverified information over the phone – an unprecedented number of calls about a single incident.

Supt McKibbin, of the Met Police’s Specialist Firearms Command, told the inquest of the “unprecedented” number of calls police received from panicked members of the public.

There were reports of gunshots at various locations in London and hostages having been taken, he said.

Although this information was incorrect “these are not people who were trying to divert resources, these are people who felt they were genuinely under attack”, he said.

As the incident was ongoing, Supt McKibbin felt there was “a potential” that more than three suspects may have been involved and there could have been suicide devices in use.

Jonathan Hough QC, the barrister for the coroner, suggested to the officer the incident “was looking like a Mumbai-style attack” – a reference to the November 2008 killings in India involving a series of co-ordinated shooting and bombing attacks that killed 166 people.

Supt McKibbin replied: “Absolutely.”

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