A taxi driver badly injured in a blast at a south-east London university that killed two of his friends has said it was a miracle he was alive after the devastating blast tore the door of his cab open and all the straps on his rucksack into the road.
Rashid Assam, 34, who lives with his wife in south London, came to the aid of his pals Javed Rizvi, 25, and Zeeshan Siddiqui, 29, when the devastating bomb ripped the force of the blast which left the ground and fences around the property damaged.
“I feel lucky to be alive. I am lucky to have survived. That rucksack ripped right open. My pocket, the rucksack, ripped open, every strap ripped off,” Assam said.
Assam, who works as a driver for London’s largest private taxi firm Uber and was on his way home from work when the blast ripped through the property in Sunbury-on-Thames in West Surrey.
“I thought I was going to die. I felt part of the door come flying off my foot. The force blew open my leg. It was incredible. It felt like a load of metal torn off me. It was amazing the size of the damage to my car,” Assam said.
As Assam ran from the scene, he discovered that his mate Siddiqui had become entangled in the arms of an elderly woman and the explosion ripped his leg off below the knee, leaving him hanging upside down and shouting for help.
Another of his friends, Rizvi, had suffered a serious wound to his foot from a piece of metal that flew off his rucksack and formed a large lump, which was bent, beneath him on the pavement.
“We were screaming ‘Rashid’. The elderly lady had broken my friend’s leg,” Assam said. “It was one of the most excruciating wounds I’ve ever seen.”
As Rizvi was being driven from the scene by his friends to hospital, another explosion happened in the back of the flat, causing further serious damage to the property.
“I could feel the flames. I couldn’t get him out of the seat so I grabbed him. As I bent down to try to help it went off and I lost my foot in a panic. The burns cover 50% of my foot. I still can’t put it back on. It is mangled, I had to have it put in plaster,” Assam said.
On Wednesday a jury at the Old Bailey were told how the disaster left “virtually” everyone in the flat dead, with 67-year-old landlord, Stanley St Clair, dying of a massive heart attack suffered as he attempted to get his wife out of the damaged property.
Seven other victims, the youngest just 20, all suffered serious injuries.
Zeeshan, Rizvi and Assam were speaking at St Clair’s funeral, the funeral which also took place on the same day as his funeral.
The Met said that the bomb was not the result of an attack and that it appeared to have come from the back of the flat.