Eight people were killed and 48 more were seriously injured in less than 10 minutes of “high and terrible drama” during the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack, the chief coroner has said.
Mark Lucraft QC addressed the families of the eight victims killed in the 2017 atrocity on the first day of an inquest in a packed court one at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.
He expressed his condolences as he said: “The lives of many people were torn apart by what took place in less than 10 minutes of high and terrible drama.”
Mr Lucraft said: “It is important to acknowledge that many lives were saved by the rapid response of members of the public and members of the emergency services.
“A number of those were eyewitnesses to the unfolding drama and will give evidence of what they saw.”
Mr Lucraft QC told the court that he hoped the inquest would answer the “obvious and understandable questions” of the relatives of those who died and give the bereaved families some comfort.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, the head of UK counter-terrorism policing Neil Basu and the Commissioner of City of London Police Ian Dyson joined the families in standing for one minute’s silence.
Following the Chief Coroner’s opening statement, the court will hear a series of pen portraits of the three women and five men who died.
The attack took place on Saturday June 3 2017, a night many people were out watching the Uefa Champions League Final in Cardiff on big screens in London.
Three women and five men died after three men ploughed into crowds in a white van before stabbing revellers with 12in (30cm) ceramic knives.
The victims were Christine Archibald, 30, Xavier Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.
Their attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were shot dead by police at the scene.
The attack came just three months after Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in a hired car before stabbing a police officer to death.
The inquests are expected to examine why there were still no barriers to protect pedestrians on London Bridge by June 3.
Families will also want answers to how Butt was able to plan and carry out the attack whilst he was under investigation by security services.
Another issue likely to be raised by lawyers acting for the relatives of the victims is the lack of security checks required to hire rental vehicles after cars and lorries were used as weapons in Nice, Berlin and Westminster Bridge.
In the coming weeks, the court will hear from eye witnesses, the family and friends of the attackers and a senior MI5 officer.
Other evidence is expected to include CCTV footage of the attacks and the terrorists’ movements, body-worn video from police officers and footage from members of the public caught up in the carnage.