London attacks: Singaporeans in London reassured by added security

Armed police officers patrolling at a vigil in Trafalgar Square the day after an attack, in London, Britain, on March 23, 2017.
PHOTO: Reuters

London terror attack

A day after a terror attack unfolded on British Parliament grounds on Wednesday, Singaporeans in London said life is back to normal - with a greater security presence.

While some in London said they will avoid the Westminster area, travel agencies here said customers have not called to cancel trips since the news of the attack.

A car had ploughed into pedestrians as it sped across Westminster Bridge before crashing into railings just outside Parliament, where the driver then stabbed and killed a policeman, before other policemen shot him dead.

The incident, which took place around 2.40pm UK time (10.40pm in Singapore), left four dead, including the attacker, and about 40 others injured.

Mr Aakash Sardana, 23, who stays across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament, off the foot of the bridge, said he had not realised the sounds he heard on Wednesday afternoon were gunshots.

But friends started asking if he was all right after the attack. He said: "I looked outside, and it seemed that the whole area had been cordoned off by the police."

4 killed, 40 injured in Britain Westminster Bridge attack

  • Aysha Frade, a mother who was run down and killed, was on her way to pick up her children.
  • Policeman Keith Palmer was killed during the terror incident at the Houses of Parliament. AFP PHOTO / Metropolitan Police Service
  • Kurt Cochran from Utah in the United States has been named as the third victim.
  • 4 people were killed and 40 injured after being run over and stabbed in a lightning attack at the gates of British democracy on Wednesday attributed by police to "Islamist-related terrorism".
  • The attack unfolded across Westminster Bridge in the shadow of Big Ben, a towering landmark that draws tourists by the millions and stands over Britain's Houses of Parliament - the very image of London.
  • The attacker's car struck pedestrians on the bridge before crashing into the railings surrounding the heavily-guarded Houses of Parliament, sowing first shock then panic in the seat of British power.
  • The assailant then ran through the gates brandishing a knife and stabbed a 48-year-old policeman to death before being shot dead by another officer.
  • Prime Minister Theresa May described the attack as "sick and depraved" and said that "the terrorist chose to strike at the heart of our capital city" in an attack on Britain's democratic values.
  • Standing outside her Downing Street residence after an emergency cabinet meeting, May voiced defiance and said parliament would meet as normal on Thursday, while Britain's alert level would be kept unchanged.
  • "We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart," said May, who was dressed in black.
  • Britain's top counter-terrorism officer Mark Rowley said the four victims included a policeman guarding parliament and three members of the public.
  • "Islamist-related terrorism is our assumption," Rowley told journalists, adding investigators believe they know the identity of the assailant who was shot dead by police.
  • The attack came a year to the day after Islamic State jihadists killed 32 people in twin bomb attacks in Brussels and after a series of deadly assaults in Europe that had hitherto spared Britain.
  • Parliament was locked down for several hours and hundreds of lawmakers and visitors were later evacuated to nearby Westminster Abbey and the headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police.
  • An air ambulance flew in and police cordoned off a large area, while tourists on the London Eye, a popular visitor attraction, were stuck up to 135 metres in the air for more than an hour during the incident.
  • "I saw three bodies lying on the ground and a whole lot of police. It was pretty terrifying," said Jack Hutchinson, 16, from the United States, who was stranded on the observation wheel with his parents.
  • Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood, whose brother Jonathan was killed in the 2002 Bali bombing, was pictured with his face smeared with blood helping to give first aid to the fatally wounded police officer.
  • US President Donald Trump and French President Francois Hollande both spoke to May and Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany stood with Britons "against all forms of terrorism".
  • Social media users shared an altered image of a London Underground sign reading "We Are Not Afraid" and the hashtag #PrayforLondon trended on Twitter.
  • May was in parliament at the time of the attack and was seen being ushered away in a silver car as what sounded like gunfire rang out, British media reported.
  • Three French pupils on a school trip were among those hurt and a seriously injured woman was rescued from the River Thames following the incident.
  • Five South Korean tourists were wounded, the Yonhap news agency reported, while the Romanian foreign ministry said two Romanians were also injured.
  • A doctor at nearby St Thomas' Hospital said they were treating people with "catastrophic" injuries.
  • British lawmaker Mary Creagh told AFP there was "a real sense of panic" as the attack unfolded.
  • Polish former foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski was in a taxi on the bridge and said a car "mowed down at least five people... one of them bleeding profusely".
  • Three shots were heard on video footage.

The London School of Economics and political science student added: "On another day, it could have been me on that bridge."

Initially, businesses were closed and there were cordons at two junctions of Belvedere Road, where he stays.

But the cordons have since been removed, and he said there have been few inconveniences.

His fears were also allayed by the "large police presence", and the atmosphere has been "surprisingly calm".

Mr Jason Hong, 24, noted the "increased security presence around major public areas like Kings Cross" right after the incident, adding that he will not let the attack affect his daily life.

"People are obviously concerned, but there has been no outright panic among Londoners," said the Durham University student, who is visiting friends in London.

Consultant Jonathan Neo, 25, said security near his office in the Canary Wharf area is tighter as cars leaving and entering the area are checked. University College London student Liew Wan Jane, 24, said she will avoid the affected area.

Singapore travellers have not called to cancel or reschedule trips to the affected city, said travel agencies such as ASA Holidays.

Ms Jane Chang, head of marketing communications at Chan Brothers Travel, said it has no travellers in London now, although groups are scheduled to head there next week.

"We have not received requests for cancellations or calls of concern (from these customers)," she said.

She added that Chan Brothers is monitoring the situation closely, keeping in touch with ground operators.

"Necessary changes to the itinerary will be made in order to keep our travellers safe," she said.

Ms Alicia Seah, director of public relations and communications at Dynasty Travel, said it has not received trip cancellation requests either.

While the firm has free-and- easy customers in Britain, they are safe and their itineraries are "going on as per normal".

byseow@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on Mar 24, 2017. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.