July 12, 2005 in Nation/World

Sisters ‘banged up,’ suffer hearing loss

Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. – Two Tennessee sisters hit by shrapnel during last week’s terrorist attacks in the London subway believe they were only 10 feet from a bomb when it exploded at floor level, their doctor said Monday.

“Some people in front of them (in the subway car) are dead – they took the hit,” said Dr. Gregory Georgiade, one of the surgeons caring for Emily Benton, 20, and Kathleen “Katie” Benton, 21, of Knoxville, Tenn.

“They will survive … they will do well,” Georgiade said. Emotionally, he said, “they’re coping with it.”

The sisters told doctors that the lights went out in the car and the explosion made them feel like they were on fire, Georgiade said.

Both women were in stable condition Monday night after reconstructive surgery at Duke University Medical Center, where they will likely remain hospitalized for two weeks, Georgiade said. Emily Benton had broken bones and lost skin on her left foot, while Katie Benton suffered shrapnel wounds in her right foot, doctors said.

Each sister’s right eardrum was “blown out” by the force of the explosion, Georgiade said. Doctors were assessing the prospect of long-term hearing loss in those ears.

“They’re pretty banged up,” their father, Dudley Benton, said in a brief interview Monday from his home in Knoxville, Tenn.

The sisters arrived at Duke on Sunday after undergoing initial treatment at a hospital in London.

The Bentons were among four Americans injured Thursday when a series of explosions targeted three subway trains and a double-decker bus during the morning rush hour. The other two were treated at a London hospital and released. Federal officials said another American whom they did not identify was killed in the blast.

The attacks killed at least 52 people and injured more than 700.

Katie Benton had left the United States for a school-related relief trip in Kenya the first week in June. Her sister met up with her in London for sightseeing, said Diane Ramsey, whose husband, Alan, is a youth pastor at the sisters’ church.

Ramsey said Katie Benton was entering her senior year at the University of Tennessee, where she’s studying veterinarian medicine. Emily Benton is studying interior design at Pellissippi State Technical Community College, also in Knoxville.

The State Department said on Monday that one American was presumed dead in the bombings. A friend said the victim almost certainly was Michael Matsushita, 37, of New York City, who has not been seen since leaving his London flat to go to work.

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