Area Packed with Tourists Site of Attack
BY JOE BRANCATELLI
An SUV rammed pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing three and injuring 20, then crashed in Parliament Square in the shadow of Big Ben. A man believed to be the SUV driver attacked and fatally stabbed a police officer Parliament grounds before being shot and killed by police.
Scotland Yard said it was treating the incident as a terrorism attack.
The Westminster Tube Stop under Parliament was closed. Many surface bus lines were diverted.
The London Eye, the big wheel just across the Thames from Parliament and Westminster, was locked down. Tourists in the pods were being evacuated pod by pod.
The area from the Westminster Bridge to Lambeth Bridge on both sides of the Thames was thick with emergency and support vehicles. Crumpled and bloody bodies littered the Westminster Bridge. The Washington Post reported that a member of Parliament was covered in blood after trying unsuccessfully to revive the stabbed police officer.
This part of London is the most congested part of the city. All of the major elements of government – Whitehall, the House of Lords and the Commons – are at the foot of Westminster Bridge.
The bridge itself and the buildings on both sides of the Thames are also major tourist attractions. There are many hotels in the immediate vicinity. There is an immense police presence in the area even in normal times.
Wednesdays are a particularly busy day at Parliament since it is Question Time, when the Prime Minister answers queries from the Commons floor.
The incident happened just after Question Time, which ends in the early afternoon. Parliament was locked down as police searched the rabbit warren of rooms and chambers inside the various building housing the British government’s legislative bodies.
Joe Brancatelli is publisher of Joe Sent Me, a website for business travelers. He is the former editor of Frequent Flier Magazine.