Londoners used Facebook and Twitter to offer shelter to people caught up in the chaos and to residents of nearby hotels fleeing the scene of the attack.
People living close to London Bridge sent messages on social media within minutes to help those left on the streets, often with little more than a phone.
The Royal Oak, a pub about half a mile away, sheltered up to 150 people from a Premier Inn that was evacuated until about 2.30am. They included about 30 children under ten and one hotel guest who followed instructions to leave so quickly that he was dressed only in his boxer shorts.
Taxi drivers gave free rides to people stuck next to the police cordons around London Bridge and Borough Market.
Ryan Sherman, 24, and his girlfriend Farah Dib, 28, live in a three-bedroom flat half a mile from London Bridge and used Facebook’s safety check to offer accommodation. The feature, introduced in 2011, allows people caught up in disasters or attacks to tell family that they are safe, and those near by to offer food, shelter, equipment and transport.
Their offer was spotted by a family from Toronto, Canada, who were staying on Borough High Street after a dance tournament in Blackpool on Friday. Myra Saraza-Pacheco, 47, who was with her husband, her daughter Jenalyn, 16, and Jenalyn’s dance partner, were told to leave their Airbnb flat at 10.30pm.
“The police told us to find a hotel to stay at but none of them wanted to take us in. We were wandering the streets with a whole bunch of other lost people wondering what to do,” Mrs Saraza-Pacheco told The Times. “I went on Facebook to tell friends and family we were safe and we found a few people offering shelter. I messaged a few of them not knowing what would happen and half an hour later we got a message back from Ryan saying they had a place.”
We didn’t think twice about letting them in, it just seemed like the natural thing to do
Mrs Saraza-Pacheco, who was due to fly home from Heathrow yesterday evening, said: “They really are guardian angels. To invite strangers into your home is amazing. So kind.”
Ms Dib said: “We’re only a few minutes away. We saw people running away in large groups and it was just natural to do anything we could.”
The hashtag #SofaForLondon was also shared online hundreds of times. George Moss, 22, was taken in by Holly Robinson and Mary Lynch, who used the hashtag to advertise a bed in their home in Vauxhall. Ms Lynch, 23, said: “If I had been in that situation I would want to know that people were going to open up their homes.”
Jade McIntosh, 28, who works at the Royal Oak, said she had been about to close up at 11pm when people started to stream by. “Three young men came running in in a panic and screaming for us to lock the doors,” she said.
“A while later we saw lots of families and children on the street who had been taken out of a Premier Inn.
“The kids were in their pyjamas, some didn’t have shoes on and there was even one guy just with his boxer shorts on. We didn’t think twice about letting them in, it just seemed like the natural thing to do.”