People cross London Bridge, in London, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. London officials said a large part of the outer cordon of the crime scene had reopened. Borough Market, a popular gathering place, remains closed as more evidence is gathered. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

As the crime scene tape is removed, life returns to London Bridge

LONDON — When Shazzadur Siddiqui returned to his London Bridge restaurant Wednesday, he was hit by a wall of smell. Four hundred pounds (more than $500) worth of condiments and toppings were putrefying behind the sneeze guard.

“All the food was rotten,” he said Wednesday as his wife and a member of staff finished cleaning out their wrap joint on Borough High Street, near the scene of Saturday night’s van-and-knife attack. “We had to throw it all out.”

Up and down the road, shop owners, waiters and retailers were returning to work — some confronting scenes of chaos left over from Saturday, when three Muslim fanatics mowed down pedestrians across London Bridge before crashing their van and emerging to stab people on the street. The killers claimed eight lives before police bought them down in a hail of gunfire.

The High Street, typically thronged with tourists and commuters, had been sealed off for more than three full days for cleaning and forensic work. It reopened early Wednesday, and by 10:30 p.m. the place was packed with buses, taxis, and cyclists. Back to normal. Almost.

Staff were vacuuming the floors and scrubbing down the counters at Padella, an Italian restaurant where, earlier in the morning, plates and cutlery were strewn just the way they’d been left the night of the attacks. The Barrowboy & Banker, the grand pub which was among the killers’ targets, remained closed, guarded by two officers in fluorescent vests.

Borough Market — a popular tourist draw — was still shuttered away behind green metal barricades. Here and there were little reminders of the violence and panic: a smashed window, a bouquet of flowers. Overturned tables and debris could be glimpsed through the barricades, but outside life continued on as before.

“It’s a very strange feeling,” said Angeles Lastra Lancha, a 22-year-old who worked at Lobos Meat and Tapas, a Spanish restaurant nestled under railway arches. The restaurant was at the center of the violence on Saturday, and the waitress vividly recalls seeing the dead and injured as she was evacuated by police.

“Many things happened here,” she said. “People are walking by here and they have not any idea of what happened here.”

[laterpay_subscription_purchase id="5" button_text="Join! Only $5 monthly" button_text_color="#ffffff" ]
[laterpay_subscription_purchase id="4" button_text="Join! $50 the full year" button_text_color="#ffffff" ]

[laterpay_contribution name="Support PULP Storytellers" thank_you="" type="multiple" custom_amount="0" all_amounts="300,500,700,1000,2500" all_revenues="sis,sis,sis,sis,sis" selected_amount="1" dialog_header="Support the Storytellers" dialog_description="support = voice"]