LONDON — A Liverpool taxi driver was being hailed as a hero on Monday by local leaders who say that he prevented greater harm after a car explosion outside a hospital in the northern English city the day before left one person dead and the driver wounded.
Three men were arrested under the British Terrorism Act in relation to the blast, but officials provided few details, including the cause of the explosion.
Security camera footage taken at the scene shows the taxi pulling up at the entrance to Liverpool Women’s Hospital moments before a blast appears to blow the windows out of the vehicle. White smoke can be seen rising from the car as the driver leaps out of the front seat.
Within seconds, the entire vehicle can be seen engulfed in flames. The passenger in the taxi was killed. The driver was taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries, but local reports indicated that he had returned home by Monday. Neither the driver nor the passenger have been officially identified.
Joanne Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, praised the driver’s actions, saying that even greater mayhem had been averted.
“The taxi driver, in his heroic efforts, has managed to divert what could have been an absolutely awful disaster at the hospital,” Ms. Anderson told BBC Radio 4 on Monday morning. “Our thanks go to him.”
When questioned further, she added, “We knew that the taxi driver had stood out of the taxi and locked the doors” but declined to offer a more detailed explanation of what took place.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the driver had acted with “incredible presence of mind and bravery,” according to The Press Association, a British news agency.
The three men arrested, ages 21, 26 and 29, were detained in the Kensington area of Liverpool hours after the blast, the police said in a statement; their names were not immediately released. Under the Terrorism Act, the men can be held for up to 14 days without being charged.
According to the BBC, MI5, a British intelligence service, is involved in the investigation.
The Merseyside Police said in the statement that emergency personnel had responded to reports that a taxi had exploded shortly after pulling up outside the hospital around 11 a.m.
“We are keeping an open mind as to what caused the explosion,” Chief Constable Serena Kennedy of the Merseyside Police told reporters on Sunday. “But given how it has happened, and out of caution, counterterrorism police are leading the investigation.”
A mile away from the site of the blast, thousands of veterans, military staff and local leaders were holding a Remembrance Day ceremony in Liverpool Cathedral at the time of the explosion. It is still unclear if the incident was linked to the event, a commemoration of Britain’s war dead.
Mr. Johnson posted a statement on Twitter on Sunday night thanking the emergency services for their response and the police for their continuing work. “My thoughts are with all those affected by the awful incident in Liverpool today,” he wrote.
The British home secretary, Priti Patel, said on Twitter that she was receiving regular updates “on the awful incident at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.”