London Bridge attack: 'I helped 200 people hide in a pub cellar'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionInsp Jim Cole rushed to the scene to give first aid

One of the first police officers on the scene of the London Bridge attack has told how he helped 200 people hide from danger in a pub cellar.

Inspector Jim Cole said he had been confronted by people wounded and in a "state of panic" in Borough Market.

Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba killed eight people on 3 June, running over pedestrians on the bridge and stabbing people nearby.

Insp Cole said the memories would "stick with me for a long time".

Dozens of people were also injured in the attack, which began shortly before 22:00 BST.

Police have revealed that the attackers had tried to hire a 7.5 tonne lorry to carry out their assault, which included mowing down pedestrians.

But the three men failed to provide payment details and the vehicle was not picked up, prompting them to use a smaller van from a DIY store instead.

Insp Cole, a 41-year-old father of three, described the scene at Peckham police station as the alarm was raised as "like something out of a movie with police officers running everywhere".

He had been due to finish his shift, but instead found himself racing with others to Borough Market.

Once there they were confronted by armed police and wounded people on the pavement, including a man who had been stabbed in the stomach.

The unarmed officer helped get people into a pub cellar to hide as shots rang out in the market.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police/AFP/Getty
Image caption The eight victims of the London Bridge terror attack. Top row left to right: Alexandre Pigeard, Christine Archibald, Ignacio Echevarria, Sara Zelenak. Bottom row left to right: James McMullan, Kirsty Boden, Xavier Thomas and Sebastien Belanger

Insp Cole said: "We had the situation of people coming running out of the market, they were in a state of panic - lots of screaming.

"So I literally just grabbed hold of as many as we could and directed them into the basement of the bar.

"I felt that was as reasonably safe a place as we had at the moment, rather than roaming the streets."

After getting the news that the attackers had been shot, Insp Cole went to tell those sheltering in the pub.

'Round of applause'

"I spoke with the 200 frightened people in the basement and told them that there were armed officers outside, we were safe and we would evacuate them as soon as we could.

"I got a big round of applause. That was a really nice, unexpected moment. It was a nice touch."

Insp Cole said he could hear his colleagues over the radio "in quite a state of distress" as they desperately called for ambulances.

He added: "I've dealt with a lot of death and I've been to some pretty horrific scenes in my career, but nothing has ever been on that scale.

"It was the most challenging, most intense situation I've dealt with. It's going to stick with me for a long time."

Stabbing victim: It was like a war zone

The business editor of the Sunday Express, who was stabbed during the attack, has written about his ordeal for his newspaper, whilst recovering in hospital.

Geoff Ho was stabbed in the neck while trying to protect his friend and other members of the public from the three armed men at the Black & Blue restaurant in Southwark.

He described how the attackers broke through the locked door of the restaurant, yelling at people to lie down on the ground.

Image caption Geoff Ho was stabbed in the throat by the attackers

"I knew that if anyone did that, they'd be dead," wrote Mr Ho. "I had to delay them, stall them any way I could.

"With my hands up, trying to look non-threatening, I stared back at them and said one word - No."

He was then struck in the throat. With the help of his friend, he managed to create makeshift bandages to stem the bleeding.

Mr Ho heard the attackers shot by police and said it felt like "running through a war zone" as he went to get help from the emergency services.

"Me and my friends wouldn't be alive without the brave men and women of the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service, the British Transport Police, who dived in with no thought for their own safety," he wrote.

"Those guys are the real heroes."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites