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The Scotsman
Sat 9 Jul 2005
Police confirmed that 13 people died when a bomb exploded on the bus in Tavistock Square.
Picture: EPA
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Bomb bus driver tells of moment he feared all passengers dead

ROB SINGH AND JONATHAN PRYNN

THE driver of the doomed number 30 London bus, torn apart by Thursday's fourth bomb, yesterday recalled the moments after the explosion in which he believed all his passengers had died.

George Psaradakis, who walked away from his wrecked vehicle with only minor injuries, said his first instinct was that he had clipped a kerb and burst a tyre.

But when he turned round and saw much of his vehicle had been destroyed, the awful realisation dawned on him that his bus had been devastated by an explosion. His first thought was: "All my passengers are dead."

Last night police confirmed 13 people had died on the bus, with many more injured.

Mr Psaradakis, 41, was driving the bus through Tavistock Square when the bomb exploded.

He was discharged after treatment for cuts and bruises and returned to his flat in Stoke Newington on Thursday night, still wearing his blood-stained uniform.

Speaking publicly about the attack for the first time last night, Mr Psaradakis expressed his sympathy for the families of those who died.

"I am just relieved to be here," he said. "Many other people have not been so fortunate. I feel for the people who have perished and for their families."

The Stagecoach bus had been diverted from its normal route following the earlier disruptions on the London Underground caused by the first three bombs.

"My bus had been diverted because there were thousands of people coming out of the Tube. There were many people who were trying to get on the bus at once," Mr Psaradakis said.

"Suddenly there was a bang, then carnage. Everything seemed to happen behind me."

Mr Psaradakis said he tried to help his passengers. "There were many injured people and at first I thought, 'How am I alive when everyone is dying around me?' The police then had to take me away because they were concerned there might be further explosions."

Yesterday, Mr Psaradakis's wife, Andriani, said: "He is OK for now, but it has not been easy for him to see these terrible things."

Another bus driver close to the scene of the bomb described how he saw the roof of the number 30 bus being "literally blown off" in his rear-view mirror.

Kirk Richards had just started his daily rush-hour route from Euston to Streatham Hill when he felt the ground beneath him shake in Tavistock Square.

The 28-year-old, who has been a number 59 bus driver for more than two years, said: "I left Euston station at around 9am. It was packed there and my bus was full. I drove on past the next stop because I was full. Then I stopped at the third stop, picked some people up and drove off.

"Then I heard a big bang and looked into my mirror and saw the roof of the bus behind me - that I'd seen at Euston - literally blown off. I felt the ground vibrate and the roof just blew away."

Mr Psaradakis, who is based at Stagecoach's Stratford bus depot, is a regular driver on the number 30, which is among nine routes operated by the company from Stratford.

Managing director for Stagecoach in London, Barry Arnold, said: "It says a lot about our driver that in such terrible circumstances his first thoughts were to help others.

"Our drivers are true professionals and have done a superb job since the terrible events of yesterday. We are running a full bus service in the capital and we are very heartened that Londoners have got back on board the city's buses despite everything that has happened.

"There is quite naturally a mixture of anger and concern at what has happened.

"But our team of drivers, and all other staff, are fully focused on getting back to the business of delivering important public transport services to people in London. Security, as always, remains our top priority".

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