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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
'The windows started shaking'
Anti-terrorist Branch officers are still searching Hammersmith Bridge
Anti-terrorist officers are still searching Hammersmith Bridge
Shocked residents in west London have told of being jolted awake by the bomb explosion on Hammersmith Bridge.

Sarah Pleat, 27, felt the force of the blast at about 0430 BST at her home in Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush, about a mile from the scene.

"I was lying in bed when I heard an enormous shudder and the windows started shaking," she said.

"I bolted upright and the tremor lasted for a good few seconds.

We heard this thud which sounded like an enormous skip being dropped

Dean Ward
"I looked out of the window but could not see anything, it was extremely eerie."

Belinda Coates, a barmaid living at the Blue Anchor pub next to the bridge, said she feared those responsible could strike again.

Miss Coates, 22, from Melbourne, Australia said: "It does worry me because I am away from home and it was very close and pretty loud.

"I was worried about whoever was behind trying to do it again because they did not finish the job but the police said they have got what they wanted because of the chaos it has caused."

I felt my entire flat vibrating

Dagmar Seils
Other witnesses said they immediately knew it was a bomb.

Builder Dean Ward, 32, from Carshalton, near Sutton, south London, was fitting a ceiling in a building near the bridge when he heard the explosion.

"We heard this thud which sounded like an enormous skip being dropped," he said.

"I knew it was a bomb because I heard a similar sound two years ago when one went off in Kensington.

"We all rushed out on to the balcony and heard sirens going, and soon after there were police everywhere."

Local resident Dagmar Seils said: "I heard a big bang - it was so strong I felt my entire flat vibrating.

"I thought that there had been some kind of blast in a local office block."

Previous bombings

Many nearby residents are no stranger to bomb attacks. It is the third time Hammersmith Bridge has been targeted.

On 26 April 1996, the IRA planted two massive Semtex devices on the south side of the river.

The detonators went off but the 30-40lb of explosives failed to ignite, saving thousands of residents in nearby flats from harm.

At the time, the bombs were the biggest planted by the IRA on the British mainland.

The organisation's first attempt to destroy the 113-year-old bridge in 1939 was foiled by a quick-thinking member of the public.

Maurice Childs, from Chiswick, west London, was walking home across the bridge in the early morning when he noticed smoke and sparks coming from a suitcase. He opened it to find a bomb.

He threw the bag into the river and the explosion sent up a 60ft column of water.

Moments later, a second device exploded causing girders on the west side of the bridge to collapse and shattering windows in nearby houses.

Mr Childs was awarded an MBE for his courage.

Eddie Connell and William Browne were given jail sentences of 20 and 10 years respectively.

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01 Jun 00 | UK
Bomb on London bridge
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