Big Isle residents Tony and Maria Parkhill, who returned from London last night, reacted to the bombings.

Isle residents,
visitors feel impact
of London blasts

Former isle resident Joe Tanega had just finished a morning meeting in London and was heading home when he was stopped at the entrance of a nearby subway.

"What's going on?" Tanega asked a guard who blocked the way.

"The whole system is down," the man replied roughly, and then whispered, "There's been an explosion."

By that time there had actually been four explosions, three in packed subway cars and one in a double-decker bus.

As news of the attacks reached the islands yesterday, Hawaii residents with family living or vacationing in London tried to contact their relatives. Some were met with overloaded phone lines.

Meanwhile, dozens of Hawaii visitors from London landed in the islands yesterday, still stunned from the events of the day and, in some cases, worried about those they had left behind.

Londoner Jon Bourgerie, who arrived in Honolulu last night, said he heard about the first bombing just before his plane took off from London at 10:05 a.m. He did not learn of the other three blasts until 10 hours later, when his plane landed in Los Angeles and he received a text message from one of his friends asking him if he was OK.

"I felt sick," said Bourgerie, who immediately called his family to make sure they were safe.

He had to wait two more grueling hours to hear from his girlfriend, who regularly takes one of the subway lines that was hit in yesterday's attacks.

The Parkhill family of Waimea arrived in Honolulu last night after visiting relatives in London. They heard about the bombings while on the mainland as they waited for a flight back to the islands. It took nearly an hour of calling before they reached their London relatives, who were all safe.

"When we heard about it, we were shocked and we couldn't believe it," said Maria Parkhill, who had traveled on London's subway system the day before.

In London, Tanega, who grew up in the islands and has family here, learned the full extent of yesterday's tragedy as he made his way home on foot and finally on an above-ground train, talking to stunned pedestrians, passengers and police.

"The whole 'tube' system was down," Tanega said, likening the scene to the hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, as streets were clogged with people trying to make their way home. "People were walking from the city. There were lots of people, just walking."

Hours later, Tanega arrived home and made sure his four children, ages 11 to 17, and wife were safe. Then, just before midnight in London, he got a frantic call from his sister.

Nayna Tanega Goodin, owner of Tanega Travel International Inc. in Aiea, had been trying to contact her brother since 8 a.m. in Honolulu but was unable to connect until about 1 p.m. "We were just thrilled that he answered and the phone had rung," Goodin said yesterday, sighing with relief but noting she spent the day worrying and watching the news.

In Honolulu, employees at PacificBasin Communications received news that their boss had been just blocks away from one of the blasts.

President Floyd Takeuchi and his wife, Kris Tanahara, who were vacationing in London, are reported to be fine though a little shaken.

"A terrible day in London," wrote Takeuchi, in an e-mail sent to his staff. "As we watch the television -- and hear the sirens on the street -- we realize we're very fortunate, indeed. The tourist bus attack took place a couple of blocks away, as we were trying to leave the hotel."

Takeuchi could not be reached last night.

Star-Bulletin writer Rosemarie Bernardo contributed to this report

London Metropolitan Police


Isle Muslim group
condemns attacks

The Muslim Association of Hawaii condemned yesterday's terrorist attacks in London in a statement by its president, Hakim Ouansafi.

"We repudiate and disassociate ourselves from any groups or individuals who commit such brutal and un-Islamic acts," said Ouansafi. "No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam.

"American Muslims offer their sincere condolences to the loved ones of those who were killed or injured in today's attack and call for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators," said the statement on the association's Web page, www.iio.org.

Ouansafi, a Honolulu hotel executive, said in an interview that the weekly prayer service today at the Manoa mosque will include prayers for "the innocent victims of this barbaric act."

"We acknowledge that there are people who have been hijacking our religion. Anyone who studies Islam, be they Muslims or not, recognizes that these people are betraying the values the faith represents," he said.

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