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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 03:28 GMT 04:28 UK
Ealing eyewitness: A huge fireball
One witness was singing karaoke when the pub window shattered
Eyewitnesses have told of the "terrifying" moment that a suspected car bomb exploded in a busy west London street.

Ealing Broadway's pubs, bars and restaurants were still crowded with people when the blast occurred shortly before midnight.

Boo Abbas, 43, from Hanwell, west London, was eating in Cafe Bianco in Bond Street, Ealing, 200 yards from the blast.

"Everything shook and I felt the wind through my hair and the vibration. I knew immediately it must be a bomb, it was terrifying. The windows shook," he said.

It was just like a huge fireball in the middle of the road. There was a really strong smell, a pungent smell of gunpowder

Samantha Illing
Samantha Illing, 20, and Marie Wilkins, 24, were taking a break in All Bar One when the unidentified vehicle exploded outside Burger King.

Miss Illing of Hanger Lane, Ealing, west London, said: "We were just sitting down after work when we just heard this explosion and the glass in one of the front windows shattered.

"We didn't know what to do at first. We just kept back from the front and then the police came really quickly."

'No warning'

Miss Wilkins, assistant manager of the Ealing branch, added: "It was weird because there was just no warning. There was just a huge explosion from a car near the traffic lights."

Ealing Broadway was busy when bomb exploded
Her colleague continued: "We came out and there was a car in flames. It was just like a huge fireball in the middle of the road. There was a really strong smell, a pungent smell of gunpowder.

"Windows in nearby shops were all shattered and The Bell pub was damaged. We think some of the people inside The Bell were injured.

"Luckily everybody from our bar was inside having a drink. Normally at that time we would at the front putting the bins out."

Real IRA

One witness told how she was singing karaoke in a pub when the there was a "huge bang" and the windows shattered.

Local resident Simon Offer was watching TV when he heard the explosion and ran outside.

"Some people were on the floor, some were having panic attacks. These were people who had been caught up in the explosion," he said.

BBC journalist Shelaye Boothey, who lives in the area, said: "When we heard the explosion we ran outside and there was thick smoke in the air. People were yelling and screaming.

"Almost all shop windows in the area have been blown out and the whole of Ealing Broadway centre is flooded under two feet of water."

Pub wrecked

The North Star pub, only metres from the centre of the explosion, was badly damaged.

Peter Fennelly, who has run the pub for 21 years, said: "I heard this great bang and my girlfriend ran in from the other room screaming.

"It was very frightening, you didn't just hear it, you could feel it. The alarm went off, I went downstairs to turn it off and it was carnage.

"All the windows were blown in, there was glass all over the floor and the security doors were blown off. The pub is completely ruined."

The BBC's Shelaye Boothey
"It looks pretty devastating"
The BBC's Tom Quinn
lives close to Ealing Broadway and reports on the scene
Bomb survivor, Richard Seaman
talks from his hospital bed
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