> >Manhunt on as toll set to rise

: Manhunt on as toll set to rise

: Manhunt on as toll set to rise.


Police were still recovering bodies from London's Underground and warned more attacks were possible as a massive manhunt got under way for the bombers who killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds of others.

Four terrorist bombs killed at least 37 people and injured 700 on three subway trains and a double-decker bus Thursday, but the toll from the city's bloodiest day since World War II looked set to rise.

After Australian police spoke with British authorities, Australian Prime Minister John Howard told reporters in Canberra that 52 people had been killed.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, also citing conversations with British officials, put the toll at 50, The Associated Press reported.

Willie McCafferty, area commander for the British Transport Police, told CNN on Friday the grim work of recovering bodies from the Underground had begun and "would continue throughout the day."

McCafferty said investigators were analyzing evidence amid debris and dust littering the dark tunnels.

"It's a very difficult environment, and there is a lot to do," he said, adding that some bodies remained in the tunnels. The estimate Thursday was 20, although some have likely been moved, he said.

McCafferty said he understood there had been no damage to the tunnel itself.

Britain's top law enforcement official said police were searching for the bombers before they had a chance to strike again.

"We have to have ... maximum consideration of the risk of another attack, and that's why our total effort today is focused on identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to justice," Home Secretary Charles Clarke told BBC radio.

"That is of course the No. 1 preoccupation that the police and security services have at this moment," he said.

"The fact is, we're looking for a very small number of very evil needles in a very large haystack, which is the city of London," Clarke said.

He said the government was taking seriously a claim of responsibility on the Internet from a group calling itself "The Group of al Qaeda of Jihad Organization in Europe."

The authenticity of the claim could not be verified.

Police were looking "very closely" at the possibility that one or more suicide bombers were involved, Clarke said.

"Obviously the possibility of suicide bombings is being considered, as is every other possible form of detonation," the UK's Press Association quoted him as saying.

He also said it was "obviously a strong possibility" the perpetrators were Islamist extremists.

Investigators found fragments of timing devices that may have been used in the three train blasts, but no such fragments have been found in the bus explosion, U.S. law enforcement sources told CNN.

"The cause of the bus explosion right now is problematic. We don't know yet what we're dealing with as the cause there," one law enforcement official told CNN.

A passenger who survived the bus blast said he saw an "extremely agitated" man rummaging in a bag just seconds before the explosion, PA reported.

The bus blast occurred about 30 minutes after the last train explosion.

However, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity told AP there was no confirmation "at all" that suicide bombers were involved.

Brian Paddick, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner, said it wasn't clear whether the Underground bombs were on the trains or in the tunnels.

Investigators' first priority is to examine forensic evidence and video footage from the transport system's extensive surveillance system, Paddick said.

"We've had considerable success in the past using closed-circuit television footage in order to trace the movements of the people involved," he said.

Most bus and some Underground services had been restored by Friday morning, but police were urging people not to come into the British capital unless necessary.

Traffic appeared much lighter than normal, with many Tube stations, buses and road nearly empty.

Those who did venture out said they had little choice.

"I was scared, but what can you do?" Raj Varatharaj, 32, told AP as he emerged from an Underground station. "This is the fastest way for me to get to work. You just have to carry on."

Terry McAndrew, who was at Holborn station in central London near one of the bombed trains, said he was anticipating a normal workday.

"You can't give in to terrorists," he told AP. "We don't need to be put down by it."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who returned to London from hosting the G8 summit in Scotland on Thursday, blamed Islamic extremists for the morning rush-hour attacks and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

In a televised address to his nation, he praised "the stoicism and resilience of the people of London" in the face of the bloodshed.

"We will not be intimidated," Blair said before returning to the summit in Gleneagles.

After meeting with the government's emergency committee, Blair vowed "the most intense police and security service action to make sure that we bring those responsible to justice.

Blair stressed that the bombers did not reflect the views of most Muslims.

"We know that these people act in the name of Islam, but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims here and abroad are decent, law abiding people," he said.

Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, went to St. Mary's Hospital on Friday to visit victims of the bombings.

In addition, Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II would visit with some of those "affected by the tragedy" on Friday. No further details were released.

The Union Jack was flying at half-staff over Buckingham Palace.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said the blasts were "mass murder" carried out by terrorists bent on "indiscriminate ... slaughter." He spoke from Singapore, where an announcement that London will host the 2012 Olympic Games inspired celebrations back home a day earlier.

'Trapped like sardines'

The four blasts went off within an hour at the height of morning rush hour.

Paddick said there were 700 to 900 people on each of the affected trains at the time.

The fact is, we're looking for a very small number of very evil needles in a very large haystack, which is the city of London.

-- British Home Secretary Charles Clarke

Witnesses described the horror of seeing victims dying and with serious injuries. There were scenes of panic as power failed on crowded underground trains, and tunnels filled with smoke.

"We were all trapped like sardines waiting to die," said Angelo Power. "I honestly thought I was going to die, as did everyone else."

Police cordoned off areas around six stations in and around the city center and financial area and brought in sniffer dogs to check the areas. Telephone traffic -- particularly by cell phone -- was nearly impossible immediately after the blasts.

One man, with blood streaming down the left side of his face from a wound on his temple, said he didn't "want to live through it again."

"There was a very loud bang, the lights went out, the carriage filled with smoke," he said. "We were all thrown forward."

"I was in the front carriage and people were severely injured there," he said, adding that his train had been in the tunnel between Kings Cross and Russell Square.

"Some people were very calm, others very panicky."

Jarvis Medhurst said he was working at the Tavistock Hotel when the bus exploded "literally 40 meters away."

"There was a massive explosion and a cloud of smoke, and then when the smoke started to die down, you could see the wrecked bus, which was on fire," he said.

"There were bodies everywhere. Heads and bits of bodies, heads and arms and legs all ripped away.

"There seemed to be kids lying around as well as adults. I'm just in shock, it's something I'll never forget."

After the explosions, transit authorities shut down the entire Underground system and bus service in the center of London.

Leaders react

Blair was at the Group of Eight summit when he got word of the attack. "It's particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long-term problems with the environment," he said.

Just before leaving for London, Blair made a second statement, surrounded by the other leaders present at the conference.

"All of our countries have suffered from the impact of terrorism," he said.

"We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism that is not an attack on one nation, but all nations and on civilized people everywhere."

He turned the summit over to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw while he traveled to London.

U.S. President George W. Bush was among the somber leaders who stood behind Blair as he spoke.

"We will not yield to these people, will not yield to the terrorists," he said in a short statement after Blair departed. "We will find them; we will bring them to justice."

The U.S. State Department -- where the Union Jack flew at half-staff Thursday evening -- confirmed at least two Americans were injured in the bombings, and said another two may have been hurt.

The blasts also spurred U.S. authorities to boost security in major American cities, particularly those with passenger rail systems.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero -- whose nation saw nearly 200 dead in train bombings in Madrid in 2004 -- offered his "absolute condemnation" of the attacks.

At the United Nations, the Security Council condemned the bombings in a resolution that calls on all nations "to cooperate to bring these people to justice," British U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said.



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