PROJECT | A Failure of Humanity

"A Failure of Humanity" Devastated by Terror, The Docklands Bombing Survivors: 20 Years On

A blaze of light and destruction tore through The Docklands as a half-tonne bomb brought a bloody end to a 17-month IRA ceasefire. In an explosion that shook East London, at 7.01pm on February 9th 1996, 80 yards from South Quay Station the IRA detonated a large bomb that killed two people and injured over 40. Scarring the landscape, the attack caused £150 million worth  of damage and left a crater 10 metres wide and three metres deep.

This project takes an intimate look at the lives of Londoners who were victims of The Docklands bombing 20 years ago. I have listened to stories of fear, loss and anger as the individuals featured in the work live with the lasting emotional and physical scars caused by the blast. Their courage and resilience is to be admired.

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 “They took everything from me that day - my job, my husband, my life. The happiness in our family died the moment that bomb exploded." For the last 20 years Gemma Berezag, 58, has been her husband’s full time carer.  Recovering from a nervous breakdown, she struggles to cope with the daily stresses of providing 24 hour care for Zaoui, 78, who was left severely brain damaged from the explosion.

“They took everything from me that day - my job, my husband, my life. The happiness in our family died the moment that bomb exploded." For the last 20 years Gemma Berezag, 58, has been her husband’s full time carer.  Recovering from a nervous breakdown, she struggles to cope with the daily stresses of providing 24 hour care for Zaoui, 78, who was left severely brain damaged from the explosion.

 Zaoui now lives with the brain capacity of a 6-year-old, had to have a leg amputated and is partially blind. The bomb exploded as he covered his wife’s shift as a cleaning supervisor at Midland Bank.

Zaoui now lives with the brain capacity of a 6-year-old, had to have a leg amputated and is partially blind. The bomb exploded as he covered his wife’s shift as a cleaning supervisor at Midland Bank.

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 Following the bombing in 1996, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Paul Condon said: "It would be unfair to describe this as a failure of security. It was a failure of humanity.”

Following the bombing in 1996, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Paul Condon said: "It would be unfair to describe this as a failure of security. It was a failure of humanity.”

 Former bank security guard Jonathan Ganesh, 43, was rescued after becoming trapped by rubble following a heroic attempt to help bank workers caught in the explosion. His hands were badly damaged putting an end to his promising semi-professional boxing career.

Former bank security guard Jonathan Ganesh, 43, was rescued after becoming trapped by rubble following a heroic attempt to help bank workers caught in the explosion. His hands were badly damaged putting an end to his promising semi-professional boxing career.

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 "These were cleaners, security guards, toilet attendants and shopkeepers. People who were looking forward to going home to their families on a Friday night. Zaoui was a road sweeper and he worked all his life. He went to work that day looking to return to his family - he didn’t - his body eventually did but his mind did not.” 

"These were cleaners, security guards, toilet attendants and shopkeepers. People who were looking forward to going home to their families on a Friday night. Zaoui was a road sweeper and he worked all his life. He went to work that day looking to return to his family - he didn’t - his body eventually did but his mind did not.”