There was panic Friday morning at a London Underground train station after an explosion on a train left “a number” of people injured in what appears to have been a bombing attempt that failed, at least partially.
London Fire Brigade and Metropolitan Police officials confirmed they were responding to the incident at Parson’s Green station, in the southwest part of the British capital.
London’s ambulance service tweeted Friday that 18 people were taken to the hospital.
London’s Metropolitan police confirmed in a statement that “a number” of people were injured on the train, and that, “Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for CT (counter-terrorism) policing, has declared it a terrorist incident.”
Commuters from the train posted messages and photos on social media showing police and firefighters on the scene and describing panic as people escaped the smoke in the train car and then got out of the station, which is an above-ground stop on the London Underground network, known as the tube.
Most of the injuries from the incident appeared to be burns. Others were reportedly hurt in the crush as hundreds of commuters rushed to get out of the station.
Peter Crowly, who was on the train, told BBC News shortly after the incident that he “heard a large bang from other side of the tube train” and that a “firewall” flashed above his head. He posted photos on his Twitter account showing a burn to his forehead and a patch of hair that appeared to be scorched.
Multiple photos posted online showed what appeared to be a large plastic bucket sitting inside a shopping bag, with what looked like charring around the top of the bucket. The photos did not show obvious signs of an explosion, but some images showed small flames still burning around the package.
Witnesses from the train reported seeing a large flash or fireball. There was no extensive damage seen around the bag containing the charred bucket. Some images appeared to show wires protruding from the top of the bag. Police would not immediately confirm that the bucket in the bag was connected to the explosion.
However, a security source with knowledge of the ongoing investigation into the Parson’s Green incident told CBS News that, according to initial assessments, the bucket likely contained a homemade explosive consistent with use in recent terrorism incidents.
London Underground suspended services on a stretch of the District Line, the one affected by the incident, but said the rest of the network would continue running.
The London Fire Brigade confirmed in a tweet that firefighters had responded to a call at 8:21 a.m. (3:21 a.m. Eastern), during London’s morning rush hour, at the busy station in the Fulham area.
A hazardous area response team was on the scene from the London Ambulance Service, along with dozens of firefighters, and armed Metropolitan Police officers could also be seen around the station, which was sealed off.
British Prime Minister Theresa May was “receiving regular updates” on the situation at Parson’s Green, according to her office.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement that he would join May at a meeting of the national government’s “COBRA” emergency response team.
“Our city utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life,” said Khan. “As London has proven again and again, we will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.”
Britain has been on its second-highest level of terrorism alert all year, and at least four incidents have been labeled terrorist attacks; in March, a man drove a vehicle into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and then attacked police officers outside Parliament.
In May, a man claiming allegiance to ISIS blew himself up after an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 people.
In early June, another attack began with a vehicle plowing into people in the London Bridge area, before three men got out and attacked civilians with large knives.