The wife of the cabbie who survived the Poppy Day blast says it’s an “absolute miracle” he survived and that he’s feeling “very painful” after escaping the car bomb blast with wounds and bruises. Bomb experts claim a failed detonation may have saved him.
David Perry escaped severe damage because the detonator explosion failed to set off the primary charge, according to David Videcette, a former 7/7 counter-terror detective at Scotland Yard.
He tweeted: “Any type of explosion in a confined space is devastating, here it blows out the windows and sends the entire windscreen into the sky.
“This makes evident that the seat of the blast is where the taxi passenger was, and not the front where the driver was. The white smoke indicates the explosion was fuelled by some explosive, the fire then takes hold, and the smoke changes color as it consumes the car.
“Improvised Explosive Devices have various components, with each having to operate in the correct order, at the desired point, for there to be an explosion. Sometimes the parts don’t work in order or when expected. It’s possible what we see here is a detonator explosion that has failed to set off the main charge.”
Others have speculated that the partition screen that separated him from the passenger saved his life.
Nick Aldworth, a former counter-terrorism national coordinator, said that from what he has seen, there is very little blast damage indicating that whatever was in the vehicle was low yield or didn’t work correctly, or possibly a torch.
Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at University College London (UCL) Andrea Sella said: “The obvious point to make is that whatever the device was, it ”took off” prematurely and burned rather than correctly exploded.
“Explosions are classified into two types—deflagrations and detonations. The latter is what someone wants to do significant damage because detonations involve a supersonic shock wave which will cause real damage.
“Deflagrations give you low booms, often with a lot of fire. They are very destructive too but not in the same league as a detonation. Here it appears that the material caught fire and there was then a deflagration inside the taxi. The driver was presumably protected by the partition between the driver’s cab and the passenger compartment.”
Meanwhile, Professor Jackie Akhavan, Cranfield University’s head of explosive chemistry, believes the bomb likely malfunctioned, allowing the driver to escape.
She said: “There was no blast wave. Therefore this was not a detonation. That is why the driver survived. Only blast waves occur when there is a detonation.” So, “I would assume that the bomb malfunctioned.”
She went on: “As this was not a detonation, I am not surprised that the driver did not die. It looks as though this was an explosion with the generation of a large amount of gas at a pressure that was sufficient to blow out the car’s windows.
“The pressure of the gases was not sufficient to harm the driver. Human bodies are very flexible and therefore can survive high pressures whereas windows are very brittle and easily break.”
Officers are checking two addresses, one in Sutcliffe Street and the other in Sefton Park’s Rutland Avenue, where “significant items have been found,” Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson of Counter-Terrorism North West said.
Professor Clifford Jones, visiting professor at Chester University, said: “It seems to me that the heat, not the blast, was the lethal factor.
“That signifies that the bomb was composed not of a high explosive such as TNT but of a hydrocarbon substance, most likely gasoline.”
Dr. Joseph Downing, a fellow in nationalism at the London School of Economics (LSE) who investigates security and terrorism, expressed his concern over the hospital attack.
He said: “It’s quite strange and a worrying new pivot towards such a ‘soft’ target as a hospital that we have not seen before in Europe.'”
Boris Johnson, prime minister of Great Britain, hailed Mr. Perry, 45 and a married father of two. He said, “It does look as though the taxi driver in question did behave with the incredible presence of mind and bravery.”
Some of Mr. Perry’s Liverpool cab driver colleagues set up a fundraiser last night to help him and his family recover from the tragedy. Within hours, it had made $11,400, reported the Daily Mail.