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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Three bombs, three times lucky
Baltic Exchange
After the Baltic Exchange blast in the City of London
Solicitor Raymond Levy has been within yards of three IRA attacks, including the Baltic Exchange blast 10 years ago this week in which three people died. Each time he has escaped unscathed.

In Manchester in 1978 a bomb went off 15 feet ahead of my car; 14 years later I was two blocks from the Baltic Exchange bomb; and in 1996 I tried to cut the engine in the bus wrecked in the Aldwych bomb.

Raymond Levy
Raymond Levy: "I was completely unharmed"
The first, when I was 18, came when I was driving home from a party in my father's car. All of a sudden there was a big flash in front of me.

The car shook and the flames were so close they seemed to be coming out of the bonnet.

My first thought was that my driving had caused it. Next was, 'What am I going to tell my father?' But the car was virtually intact - just showered with glass from the surrounding buildings.

His near misses
Dec 78: two bombs in Manchester
April 92: car bomb outside Baltic Exchange, London
Feb 96: premature explosion on bus, Aldwych, London
About 18 minutes later, while I was talking to ambulance men around the corner, a second device went off. We all dived to the ground and the windows above us blew out.

The police had been trying to throw people out of the area because of the risk of further devices. Which way do you run? You don't know whether you are going towards or away from it.

Observing the Sabbath

The night of the Baltic Exchange bombing, the Friday after the 1992 general election, I was staying at a synagogue. Because Orthodox Jews don't travel on the Sabbath, I didn't want to have to walk to the Saturday service from Maida Vale [in west London].

Scene outside the Baltic exchange
Baltic blast: "The roads were smothered in glass"
Earlier in the evening my laughter had woken my friends' baby so they'd brought it downstairs to be with us. We were having dinner when a massive flash of blue light illuminated the courtyard outside.

The double bang which followed was far, far louder than the 1978 explosions.

The instant we got out - the roads were smothered with shattered glass - it became clear that we were not the target and that it had been a very big device.

Foster's glass tower on the Baltic Exchange site
The "gherkin" going up on the Baltic Exchange site
My friends were bleeding slightly but I was completely unharmed for the second time.

We went back to the synagogue's flat two days later and there was smashed glass all over the floor, glass on the food we'd been eating. Upstairs in the baby's room, shards were embedded in the wall and the cot. So in the end, my friends were grateful that I'd woken the baby with my loud laughter.

Burning bus

Four years later on my way home from working late, a bus passed me while I was stuck at a red light. Moments later I heard this massive double bang. As debris hit my car I thought, 'Oh no, not again.'

Scene after the Aldwych bomb
The wrecked double-decker on Aldwych
In the silence after the bomb I could hear the wrecked bus's engine running. I got the bonnet open, but couldn't find the emergency cut-off device as the engine was covered in oil grime.

I shouted to a taxi driver nearby: 'Do you know how to shut this thing off, mate?' Together we fumbled about and he eventually found it.

Since then we haven't seen explosions on a grand scale in Britain since the Irish peace process was initiated.

Raymond Levy
Raymond Levy: "I regard myself as very lucky"
You can't live your life as if there's a bomb around every corner.

Only a month ago I was speaking to a cousin of mine who's emigrated to Israel - I rang the night of one of the suicide bombs.

I told her I was thinking of coming out to see her and other relatives. She said it wasn't really the time.

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09 Apr 02 | N Ireland
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