The remains of the double-decker bus ripped apart by a blast suspected of being carried out by a suicide bomber. Photo AAP
The remains of the double-decker bus ripped apart by a blast suspected of being carried out by a suicide bomber. Photo AAP

WE?RE SAFE

By ANN-MARIE MAY

LONDON may be a 23-hour flight away, but the explosions that shook the British capital has been felt along the Coffs Coast.

With the number of locals thought to be in London in the hundreds, phonelines have been ringing hot with family and friends trying to find out if their loved ones are safe.

So far the news has been positive, with no Coffs Coast residents reported injured.

As owner and manager of Travelworld Coffs Harbour, Greta Lindsay has recently farewelled many locals heading for London, but on news of the blasts, her first thoughts went to her granddaughter.

"My granddaughter is in London, so it was a bit of a panic trying to contact her and make sure she was safe. To our relief she and other friends of mine are fine," Ms Lindsay said.

Ms Lindsay said while it was difficult to pinpoint where all the tourists were exactly, as many just used London as a hub to travel Europe, July was the beginning of the peak season and very popular with the younger travellers.

Kelly Travel's Sandra Whittington said of the travellers they knew were physically in London at the time, all were fine.

Safe, but shaken, Coffs Harbour's Walker family were caught up in the terrorist blasts, arriving in London on Thursday morning.

The family were turned away from the Royal National Hotel which had been sealed off after a reported suicide bomber blew up a bus at nearby Tavistock Square shortly after 9am local time.

Left stranded on the streets while waiting for developments in Russell Square, Mrs Noela Walker, her husband, Graham, and daughters Sonya, 25, and Josie, 8, were told to return to the hotel later in the day.

"I've never been overseas before, this is scary," Mrs Walker said.

But her main concern was getting news of their safety back to family and friends.

"They'll be all in a panic, there will be news flashes and it's right where we're supposed to be staying."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has set up a hotline for inquiries about the bomb blasts in London, but asks people to first contact family and friends directly.

The numbers are 1800 002 214 or 1300 555 135.



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