UP TO 50 people disembarked from the overcrowded bus blown up in the July 7 attacks just moments before the devastating explosion tore through it, an inquest heard yesterday.
Unaware of what was disrupting the transport network that morning and forcing legions of would-be Tube passengers to travel overground, the driver had made a diversion.
Following protocol, he announced this to his passengers, advising those whose destinations were nearby that they might be better off walking. Between 30 and 50 passengers got off the bus – unaware that their driver's advice could have saved their lives in the terrorist attacks which killed 52 people.
One of the passengers, Tad Gryglewicz, recalled an "almighty explosion" on the number 30 bus. He told the inquest in London: "Straight away it was just like my mind was in overdrive, and I could see that this bus was targeted by terrorists, and I'm just on this very bus." The Polish-born electrical engineer added: "It was shock and disbelief – in microseconds the bus had changed beyond recognition."
Georgina Ford, another of the passengers on the bus, said the severely damaged vehicle covered in bodies looked like an "Auschwitz truck".
Ms Ford, who in 2005 was living in Finsbury Park, north London, and working as a receptionist in Old Street, was among those moved out of King's Cross as she travelled to her office on the Tube.
She recalled that commuters crowded on to the bus at Euston station. "I think the number 30 bus was one of the few buses that had free seats on it, and I think that's why so many people were trying to board it," she said.
Ms Ford remembered the blast in Tavistock Square as a "tinny bang", like a tyre bursting, and said she at first thought they had crashed into another bus. Trapped in the wreckage, she had to wriggle through mangled bodywork and clamber over bodies to get free.
The inquest is due to resume on Monday.