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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 17:06 GMT
Madrid bombing trial: Eyewitness view
Madrid bomb attack
The attacks left 191 dead and nearly 2,000 injured
As the Madrid bombing trial opens, BBC News website reader and Madrid resident Stephen Drake-Jones remembers the scene at Atocha station on 11 March 2004 and describes reaction to the trial.

I was in my kitchen, in my apartment right beside Atocha station, when I heard the bomb blasts.

Immediately after, through my window, coming from across the railway tracks, I could smell smoke, burnt flesh, gunpowder and explosives.

I went down into the street and saw people running everywhere, police screaming at people to clear the area, and ambulances rushing through the streets.

I immediately spotted some shocked train workers sitting on a kerb.

They had been coming up one of the escalators in the station when the blasts went off.

They had a lucky escape. I sat with them, put my arm around them and tried to comfort them.

Shrine at Atocha station
People are relieved the trial has finally started, but we want it to be over as quickly as possible
I usually pass through the station around that time of the morning, so I felt lucky myself.

It was a very emotional day.

I remember a lot of panicked and shocked faces, many of them asking "why us, why Spain, why Madrid?"

Almost three years on some people are remembering the bombings, but many are just trying to forget.

I walked past Atocha station this morning and there were some people laying flowers and candles to mark the start of the trial, as they did in the days after the bombings.

However, when I went to my local bar the trial was on the television but no-one was watching it.

People are relieved it has finally started after almost three years of waiting, but we want the trial to be over as quickly as possible.

There has always been a sense of shock that it was Spain that was targeted in this way.

Now people just want to move on, and the quicker the trial is over the quicker that can happen.

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