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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Subway bombing hits home

Monday, July 11, 2005

Studying abroad was a lifelong dream for Kasey Vogel, former Storm Lake St. Mary's student. That dream came true when she studied abroad in London this spring semester through Central College and took classes at London Metropolitan University.

About to begin her senior year as a psychology major at Drake University in Des Moines, Vogel is glad that dream did not become a nightmare, as it did for the 700 who were injured and at least 37 who killed in the Thursday subway bombings in London.

Prior to returning to the United States a few weeks ago, Vogel rode the same subway line regularly. 'The Tube,' as Londoners refer to it, carried her morning and at night from her residence in St. James Park to Bayswater, a 35-minute trip, directly past Edgware Road station, the site of one of Thursday's four bombings. The bombings reportedly took place at the Aldgate station near the Liverpool Street railway terminal, Edgware Road and King's Cross in north London, Old Street in the financial district and Russell Suare, near the British Museum.

While terrorism was not an imminent threat while she was there, Vogel said police were still vigilant in their watch in what for many is the sole means of transportation in one of the oldest cities of Western civilization. One reason, Vogel noted, was that one newspaper reported that there were 200 known terrorists living in London when she was there.

As the nation most vocally supporting American military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, English leaders knew their nation could become a target.

One of the biggest problems with the bombings of the London subway system is that it was the only affordable means of transportation for many. At about $40 U.S., passengers can ride the subway as much as they want through Zones 1 and 2 throughout central London for a week. That compares to about $14 for a five-minute one-way cab ride.

Since she had a student transit card for the subway, Vogel received an E-mail Thursday from the transition system stating that the system remained closed Thursday and would offer limited service Friday.

It was the Edgware Road station that suffered the brunt of Thursday's terrorist attacks where there were three bombings. There was a fourth bombing on a double-decker bus, one of London's trademark tourist attractions.

Vogel said there are two tube stations with four lines and rush hour is particularly hectic. That includes the time from about 6:30-9:30 a.m.

"Very few people actually drive over there," Vogel said. That stands to reason, given the fact that gas is $8 a gallon.

The actual inner city of London is roughly the size of downtown Chicago, about a square mile, and the population of just 8,000 mushrooms to 300,000 during the day. Ancient churches and cathedrals still fire-blackened from the Great Fire of 1666 spackle the landscape otherwise dominated by modern high-rises such as The Great Gerkin, a glass, pickle-shaped building erected just 10 years ago in London's financial district.

While Prime Minister Tony Blair made a direct connection between the blasts and the G-8 summit now going in Gleneagles, Scotland, Vogel said she deliberately tried to not discuss politics with Londoners.

While riding the tube, everyone read the free newspapers that focused on entertainment and sports. There was no immediate fear of terrorism.

"There were lots of warnings in other places though," Vogel said. "But for the most part there wasn't any concern."

Vogel, who will keep her London memories for a lifetime, said she would be afraid to return to the city in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

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