Thursday, May 20, 2004

London Under Attack!

Lethal Chlorine Cloud Drifts Across East London
Lethal Chlorine Cloud Drifts Across East London in BBC Panorama documentary.

See the transcript here.

Last Sunday night, the Beeb was doing it's bit to calm public fears about terrorism - by running a realistic docu-drama simulation of a day of major terrorist attacks on London, beginning with three of Al-Qaeda's signature near-simulanteous suicide bombings on the tube. It climaxed in the release of a huge cloud of poisonous chlorine gas from a hijacked tanker in Commercial Street, about twenty minutes walk upwind from my home in London's Docklands. On most days, I'd be likely to be caught by the gas at home or at work.

I wasn't surprised to hear of severe weaknesses in the training available, not just to first-responders like security guards and train drivers, but also to the emergency services.

The fact that these services and the military can't make their radios talk to each other was quite startling; wouldn't this be needed even in the usual course of their work?

Other SNAFUs include a lack of a siren network, which was dismantled in the early nineties, shortages of recovery vehicles and medical services hamstrung by rationing.

So, in summary, I don't feel very safe, but I'm damned if I'm letting anyone scare me.

As for Ireland, I would suspect that the preparedness is much, much worse.