Witnesses, passersby and victims of Saturday night’s terrorist attack in London described their sense of fear and chaos as a van rammed into pedestrians on the city’s London Bridge and several men with knives attacked and stabbed victims there and at a separate site at nearby Borough Market.
Multiple witnesses reported a vehicle veering off the road and hitting several pedestrians; others also said they saw a number of men with large knives chasing after potential victims.
The Sun newspaper reported a group of five men (later reports said three) wearing stab-proof vests began “attacking revelers with hunting knives” after leaving the van.
Witnesses reported seeing injured people on the ground on the bridge. One, Holly Jones, told the BBC a white van veered off the road and struck as many as six people. She said she saw at least four or five people on the ground.
Another witness, The Spectator editor Will Heaven, said he saw people who appeared to have been hit, and one being put into an ambulance.
“We saw injured people on the road, injured people on the pavement,” he told Sky News.
Soon after, reports came in of stabbings around Borough Market, just steps away from the bridge.
A man who gave only his first name, Ben, told BBC radio that he “saw a man in red with a large blade, at a guess 10 inches long, stabbing a man, about three times” near Borough Market.
Gerard Vowls, 47, told The Guardian newspaper that he saw a woman being stabbed by three men at the south end of London Bridge. He said he threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them.
“They kept coming to try to stab me. They were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” he told the newspaper. “I want to know if this girl is still alive. I’ve been walking around for an hour and a half crying my eyes out. I don’t know what to do.”
Alex Shellum at the Mudlark pub near the scene of the attack said a woman had come into the bar “bleeding heavily from the neck”.
“It appeared that her throat had been cut,” he told the BBC.
Medics treated people lying injured on the ground near the market as shocked people cried and shouted around them. Police officers yelled at people to run from the area.
Simon Thompson told Sky News that he was just outside Borough Market when he saw crowds fleeing.
“We ran for like 100 meters and then saw loads of police cars turned up and there was kind of a period of quite intense gunfire,” he said. “I hid in a restaurant basement for about an hour. … Police told us to get out and then there was more gunfire.”
As thousands of people flooded from the area — many unable to get home with nearby subway stations shut — locals were quick to offer assistance.
Phaldip Singh, who describes himself as an entrepreneur and youth activist, tweeted that Sikh Gurdwaras were open to provide food and shelter for those affected by the attacks. Gurdwaras are places of worship that traditionally serve simple meals to anyone, regardless of their religion.
The Royal Oak pub, near the attack site, opened its doors to people evacuated from hotels inside the area cordoned off by police. And at least one cab company tweeted an offer of free rides for people stranded in the area.