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09 July, 2015

Ten years on from the 7/7 bombings, one of the survivors remembers those who helped her and the people who lost their lives in the atrocity. Jacqui Daukes was on the Piccadilly Line tube train which was blown up between King's Cross and Russell Square. Twenty-six people on her train were killed. Here are her memories of 7 July, 2005:

Jacqui Daukes
Today I'm remembering what happened. I'm thinking about the 52 victims, their families, the emergency services, the heroic helpers and ALL the survivors.

I was on my way to a conference at SOAS and really looking forward to it and to helping out on the registration desk.

When I arrived at the platform it was incredibly crowded, as there had been a signal failure up the line earlier. Station staff were advising people to seek alternative transportation but as I was running late I decided I had to get on the next train that came.

Normally I would have got into the first carriage of the train as it was closest to the exit at Russell Square - and this is the carriage that blew up - but by some miracle I moved down towards the back of the train as I thought it better to be on the train than not at all.

The carriage was overcrowded and we were crammed in tightly. Shortly after the train had moved from King's Cross down the tunnel towards Russell Square there was a loud bang and the carriage shook, went dark and filled with acrid soot.

After the initial shock people tried to crouch on the floor and cover their mouths (as one is meant to in a fire) but it was almost impossible due to the overcrowding. Some people began crying. Some emergency lighting eventually came on. People's faces were covered with soot and I could feel the soot in my hair. We waited for information. We waited for help. Time passed.

A guy from London joked that some overnight workers must have left a bag of cement or something on the track and his whinging got a laugh out of the crowd which defused much of the tension. (My thanks to this man for that.) After a while I could hear banging, crying and cries for help from further up the train towards Russell Square. I had no idea what was going on and continued to wait for help.

Eventually the crowd moved towards the back of the carriage and squeezed through the connecting door to the next carriage. We moved to the back of the train where one of the double doors had been prised open. Some male passengers were on the track beside the door helping us to alight. (My thanks to them.) One had to sit on the floor and then get down on to the track.

As I walked forward another passenger asked me if I was all right. (Thank you to them too.) There was a member of staff with a torch at a particular nasty junction of track. (Thanks to him too.) Another passenger, holding up his mobile phone, pushed past (anxious? taking footage?).

At King's Cross we were hauled up onto the platform by several Tube staff. As I went up the escalator towards the exit there were male firefighters leaping down the other side three or four steps at a time! At the top of the escalator a member of staff was struggling to open packs of bottled water quickly enough so as to hand each passenger coming up a bottle. I must have drunk the water but don't remember!

I, along with other passengers, emerged from the Tube station onto the concourse on the Euston Road. I remember seeing the newsstand, which is still there today. There was a pregnant lady asking for help and other passengers asking what had happened. No one seemed to know what was going on and the ambulances had yet to arrive.

I phoned my mother (luckily they hadn't shut down the mobile network yet) and said there had been an incident and that I was okay but that I was going to come home and would she meet me at the station. I asked a member of staff if the Thameslink train services were still running south and he had no idea so I walked over to the station and managed to get a train.

I couldn't understand why people were staring at me and it was only when I looked in the mirror in the toilet could I see that my face was covered with soot! Mum later told me that it was while she was waiting in the car at the station that she heard the news on the radio about what had happened.

I'm one of the many lucky survivors who got to go home and whose family saw me again. There are lots of similar stories to mine of those who walked away.

I still don't like travelling between King's Cross and Russell Square by Tube, but if I do I remember 7/7. I will always remember 7/7 but then and now I don't blame Muslims nor do I hate Islam or Muslims.

I think hate is pointless and doesn't achieve anything positive. I'm interested in peace and find [Swiss Catholic Priest] Hans Kung's call for inter-religious dialogue and action inspiring in this context:

'...There will be no peace among nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue between religions. There will be no dialogue between the religions without global ethical standards.'

This article was first published by Sky News on 7 July 2015.

NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole.

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