Former residents escape UK bombs


RAIN and an unusual sequence of events combined to take Ryan Heath close to last week's London bombings, but also keep him out of harm's way.

The 25-year-old former Coffs Harbour resident could easily have been on one of the Tube trains or the bus which were blown apart by terrorists last Thursday and he is still coming to terms with how close he was to the blasts.

Travelling across London from his East End home to his office that morning, Mr Heath took a combination of buses and trains because the rain meant he could not ride his bike but escaped the carnage which has left more than 50 people dead and hundreds, including nine Australians, injured.

"I count myself lucky," he said in an email to his parents at their Boambee home.

"At four points between 8am and 9am (last Thursday) I had choices about how to get to work. If I had taken others I could easily have been in one of the explosions."

On a normal summer day, Mr Heath, who works as an advisor to the British Government's chief information officer, would have been riding his bicycle past Aldgate East station about the time a bomb exploded near there.

Instead he and a friend were negotiating a bus from Hackney ? the starting point of the bus which was blown up ? and Liverpool Street Station, where his friend talked him out of using the Circle Line.

"Normally I would have used the main gates and walked straight to the Circle Line and into the first explosion," he said.

Instead, they opted to use the Central Line.

"At 8.46 we boarded the Central Line and before we had reached the next station there was a large white flash. Odd, but that's all," Mr Heath said.

"By 9.06 when I emerged at Victoria Station the station was shutting and the transport system was being shut down.

"Something seemed weird ? no-one from my team was at their desks. By 9.50 we knew there had been a a terrorist attack."

Mr Heath said he and his colleagues spent much of the morning watching television coverage of the bombings and trying to contact friends and family to let them know they were safe.

On his two-hour walk home in the rain, Mr Heath was able to reflect on the events of the terrible day.

"Mostly, I felt the need to be defiant," he said. "I had always been rather detached from politicians' promises never to give in to terror but then that's easy if you've never been within five minutes of being blown up or, worse, being injured or killed in a terorist attack.

"Then I felt angry.

"The rain continued to pour down and my toes squelched against my socks as I passed police cordon after police cordon."

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