A straight translation from the Diario.
Alberto Freitas living in London, but a national of Madeira, was caught up in the horrific terror attack on London yesterday.
A very sad day for London.
Alberto Freitas had to drink a drink “to calm the nerves”, after the terrorist attack of Wednesday, in London, whose impact felt close, since it was inside the building of the British Parliament.
“I’ve been through a lot, but a situation like this was the first and I do not recommend it,” he told Lusa on Wednesday night outside Portugal, where he smoked nervously one of the last cigarettes in the pack.
Alberto Freitas, who is the operational manager of the banquet of the House of Lords, recalls that he looked at the clock at 2:40 pm (same time in Lisbon) before leaving for the outer space of the Palace of Westminster where he was working.
“I came out, inside the parliament, I saw a mess, a lot of police and security people saying there had been a shootout and a stabbing and we were going to go inside,” he said.
He returned to the front desk with 250 people he was supervising, and told the people that they could not leave and to remain calm, what happened until they reached the police and the special forces.
On television, the 51-year-old Portuguese native of Madeira and many other people inside knew the details of what had happened outside the gates.
A man hit several pedestrians while driving at high speed on Westminster Bridge and then stabbed a policeman at one of Parliament’s entrances. The striker was shot to death.
At least five people were killed in the attack yesterday in front of the British parliament and 40 were injured, according to authorities. A Portuguese man was hit in the attack, but he is well, said the Portuguese Secretary of State for the Portuguese Communities, José Luís Carneiro.
In the interior, the police “spent everything to fine” to ensure that there was no danger, said the Madeiran, who has lived in London for 30 years.
Subsequently, all the people in Parliament – deputies, lords, cooks and all kinds of officials – were taken to Westminster Hall, a large room where they stayed until 19:30.
What was said, Freitas confided, was some surprise with the poor organization of the emergency management.
“They expected us to manage more calmly and effectively. But we understand that in such a situation it is very difficult to control, “he commented.
Despite attending regular meetings on security and the risk of terrorism, he acknowledged that he was neither prepared nor “frightened.”
“I’ve been there for 20 years and I’ve never been in a situation like this, it was the first time,” he said, still shaken.
The other colleagues had already returned home, but Alberto Freitas was left behind, admitting: “I still do not know how I’m going to sleep.”
However, he knows he will have to return to work in Westminster, where he will have to keep the perimeter of security and a strong police presence.
“I have already received a message from my superiors to say that tomorrow [Thursday] returns to normal. It will be normal, but we canceled the banquets. Tomorrow we will reflect on what happened and what can be done in the future, in a situation like these, “he said.
In other Portuguese establishments of Stockwell, the feeling was also of relative normality, passed the concern of the first hours, described António Ramos, employee of the coffee Star.
With the television tuned into a Portuguese information channel, for clients to follow what was happening in the British capital, Ramos said that the 2005 attacks in London “were more alarming.”
“It’s not that surprise anymore. It happened in other countries and people are already getting used to it, “he said.
Also António Costa, an employee at The Three Lions restaurant, shows some stoicism in relation to the attack, in which at least five people died and 40 were injured, many with seriousness.
“It was to be expected in one of these cities. In 2005 they were more scary. But I’ve been here since 1986, when there were still Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombings, and I learned from it, “he said.